Eternal Hope – Part 1-49

Eternal Hope – Part 1-49

January ___, 2003

Dear Co-laborer,

Eternal Hope
Part 1

This begins what will probably prove to be a long series on eternal hope. As you know, hope is the only sustaining influence in a person’s life. Love, obligation, fear – these and other factors can motivate, but only hope can provide a motivation that stands the test of disappointment. You will find “hope” used 129 times in the King James Version of the Bible, 141 times in the NAS, and 185 times in the RSV.

Hope defines the object of your faith, as well as identifies your values. For example, you may place your faith in (take risks in the direction of) the stock market because you hope to have adequate finances for retirement. These, in turn, identify your values, i.e. – you value or consider it important to live well without having to depend on your children or charity during your retirement years.

Hope therefore identifies what you consider gain. You say, “I hope to do well in the stock market.” You do not say, “I hope to lose my investment.” The study of the end of the world (eschatology) seeks to identify what God defines as a biblical hope. In what direction does God say you can legitimately hope? In the New Testament, Paul prays for the Ephesians, “having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints…”[1] Again, Paul says, “For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel…”[2]

In the Old Testament, God offered an eternal hope to the nation of Israel, illustrated by His promise to Abraham, the father of the nation: “for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.”[3] In the Old Testament, however, I can find no parallel hope given by God to an individual, no place where God promises an individual eternal life. This does not mean that the OT saints lacked an eternal hope; Hebrews 11, for example, tells us “they desired a better country, that is a heavenly one.”[4] Rather, I can find no reference to God offering an individual an eternal hope.

I found this so strange that I read the entire Bible looking for exceptions. A large part of this study will be devoted to analyzing various texts that may suggest that individuals did, in fact, have an eternal hope. Before beginning, however, let’s look at some obvious Old Testament indicators pointing in the direction of eternal hope:

Indicators that people believed in the immortality of the soul:

1) – Genesis 1:26-27: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” The fact that God created him in His own image drove man to conclude that he is more than a temporal being like the rest of God’s creatures.

2) – Genesis 2:9: “And out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” In verse 22, Moses says that if man eats of this tree he shall “live forever.”

3) – Matthew 22:32: “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” Jesus quotes from Exodus 3:6 to prove the resurrection and the immortality of the soul.

4) – In 1 Samuel 28:7-15 Saul uses the witch of Endor to call Samuel back from the grave, thus demonstrating that although dead, Samuel lived.

5) – Israel lived 400 years in Egypt, and we know that the Egyptian people held to a belief in the immortality of the soul.

6) – Genesis 5:22: “Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”

7) – Genesis 37:35: “All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and said, ‘No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.’ Thus his father wept for him.” Isaac saw Sheol as a place where he would be reunited with his son. There are many similar passages to this.

8) – Ecclesiastes 12:7: “and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” Evidently Solomon alludes to Genesis 3:19: “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” In Genesis, however, God does not say “the spirit returns to God who gave it.”

9) – 1 Kings 17:22: “And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.” God used Elijah to raise the widow’s son from the dead. (Cf. also 2 Kings 4:35 and 13:21). Thus, God demonstrates His power over Sheol; it cannot hold those who enter.

10) – 2 Kings 2:11: “And as they still went on and talked, behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” As his prodigy looked on, Elijah was translated into heaven. No mention is made of what happened to him. When God translated both Enoch and Elijah, He demonstrated that Sheol was not the inevitable end of man. The prophet Micah, speaking for God, predicts: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the LORD comes.”[5]

Other indicators exist. These are merely illustrative.

Old Testament Theocracy

As we move through this study, we will explore passages in the OT that hint of life after death, but as already noted, they are relatively rare and do not promise the people of God the hope of heaven after death.

With the establishment of the Theocracy, God dwelt among His people in a sort of kingdom of God on earth. With the disintegration of Israel as a nation ruled by God (first with the loss of the ten northern tribes in the Assyrian captivity and then the Babylonian captivity), you gradually see the emergence of the individual as the focus of the Old Testament writers.

The continuity of God’s commitment to the nation did not require a hope of heaven; that commitment can be kept indefinitely in a temporal environment. When it came to the individual, God’s commitment had to transcend the temporal, simply because of man’s mortality. A cursory analysis of life reveals that a temporal hope alone is no hope at all. Without an eternal hope, life is futile.

The word “heaven” is used in the OT as the abode of the stars and some times as the abode of God. Deuteronomy 26:15: “Look down from thy holy habitation, from heaven, and bless thy people Israel.” And again, 1 Kings 8:43: “Hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place.” On occasion an oath was made using heaven as surety: Deuteronomy 30:19: “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” As far as I can tell, the ascension of Elijah is the first reference of a person going to heaven.

Psalm 139:8: “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, thou art there.” This seems to be the first reference in Scripture to both heaven and Sheol in the same thought; Sheol and heaven are separate places. David says that it is possible for a person to “ascend up into heaven,” the first such reference since the ascension of Elijah. Also, Amos 9:2: “Though they dig into Sheol, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down.” As far as I can tell, these are the only OT references to people going to heaven, and even here I am not sure if the author means the abode of God or merely disappearing in the clouds.

Proverbs, possibly more than any other OT book, talks about Sheol as a place akin to the New Testament understanding of hell.

New Testament Teaching

Jesus discusses the eternal destiny of individuals, but doesn’t tie their destiny to His substitutionary death. He came to present the kingdom of God to the Jews, and it wasn’t clear until after their rejection of Him and His crucifixion that His was a propitious death for the sins of the world. Interestingly, throughout the gospels you find the Baptist, Jesus, and His disciples all preaching the kingdom of God. But nowhere that I can find do they give the content of the message. It seems reasonable to assume that whatever its content, it had to be understood by the masses, and thus given in OT terms.

Not until you get into the epistles do you find the purpose of Jesus death amplified, as well as an emphasis on the individual and the necessity of his receiving forgiveness of sin through the blood of Christ as a necessary condition for inheriting eternal life. This, according to the Apostle Paul, takes place because the “wild olive branch” has temporarily replaced the “natural olive branch” until “the fulness of the Gentiles is complete.”[6]


In the New Testament, then, we as the “wild olive branch” are to be included in the kingdom of God. In Matthew 5:9 Jesus establishes a condition: you and I are a child of God only if we become a peacemaker: “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they be called the children of God.” You will not be able to meet this condition of the Master unless you obey His admonition in v. 44: “I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Until you can love, bless, and pray for your enemy you will never be at peace with him.

Those with a temporal hope will find themselves at war with their fellow man, for temporal resources are finite and people compete with one another in an endeavor to obtain them. Peace, with self and with others, is impossible without an eternal hope. With self because you say with the Apostle Paul, “Having food and raiment, let us therewith be content,”[7] and with others because you are no longer competing with them. You “look for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”[8] An eternal hope ensures your dependence upon God, for clearly only He can provide the object of an eternal hope.

When a man declares his autonomy from God he guarantees the anarchy of his passions. In the heat of passion a man will do what under the influence of reason he abhors. If you renounce your autonomy in favor of being God’s slave, He will help you control your passions, alter your hope, and empower you to be a peacemaker.

In I Corinthians 13:3 Paul ties love to profit: if I don’t transfer my hope for gain into the eternal, I won’t be able to love in a way different from the world. It seems to me this is the gist of Jesus’ words in John 13:34-35.


March 2003

Eternal Hope
Part 2

When it began to occur to me that God’s promise of eternal life to the individual cannot be found in the Old Testament, I was surprised and troubled. For years I have read the Old Testament through the eyes of the New Testament rather than through the eyes of those living during those ancient times. What, I asked myself, are the implications of my discovery? I am still trying to answer that question. Did others before me make the same discovery? Yes, but almost exclusively by those who were not in sympathy with the New Testament message.

In this issue I will begin exploring relevant passages in the first five books of the Bible – the Torah. I make no claim that my study will prove exhaustive, and I invite you to call to my attention passages I have overlooked or areas where you disagree with my conclusions. All Old Testament quotes are from the Hebrew Scriptures, the Tanakh, marked JPS in the footnotes.

Reflections on Genesis, Exodus, and part of Leviticus

Genesis – When God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden, He called attention to two trees: the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve’s preoccupation with the latter alerts us to the fact that as human beings we desire autonomy, more than eternal life. It is clear from Gen. 3:22 that the fruit of the tree of life was understood to bestow immortality. But when God said, “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,”[9] He linked death and sinning. Thus, if man did not eat of the fruit he would not die, implying the immortality of man. Although God does not resolve this conundrum, you can see why man was attracted to the tree promising autonomy rather than the one promising eternal life. When Adam sinned, God barred access to the tree of life.[10]

Gen. 25:8; 35:29; 49:33 tells us that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were each “gathered to his people.” “It would seem, therefore, that the existence of this idiom, as of the corresponding figure ‘to lie down with one’s fathers,’ testifies to a belief that, despite his mortality and perishability, man possesses an immortal element that survives the loss of life. Death is looked upon as a transition to an afterlife where one is united with one’s ancestors. This interpretation contradicts the widespread, but apparently erroneous, view that such a notion is unknown in Israel until later times.”[11] Gen. 25:17 tell us regarding Ishmael, “and he expired and died; and was gathered unto his people.” Ishmael was not a child of God’s promise, and yet Genesis makes no distinction between where he went after death vis-à-vis Abraham. This would seem to indicate that the abode of the dead was viewed at that time differently from how those in the New Testament viewed it. I can find no indication of an individual expressing a personal, eternal hope, or of God offering one.

Exodus – Exodus 32 – 34:10 (or maybe to the end of chapter 34) form a unit: Moses delays his return from Sinai and Aaron makes for the people an idol shaped as a golden calf. God threatens Israel’s destruction and Moses interceded saying that God should forgive the people because: 1) – God would look bad in the eyes of Egypt, and 2) – It would violate the covenant God made with Abraham. God relents. In v. 35 “the Lord sent a plague upon the people, because they made the calf which Aaron made.” When the Levites executed God’s justice in Exodus 32:25-29 you notice three groups of Hebrews: the innocent, the tempted, and the tempters. Moses does not make clear how many from each group were killed; God controls the destinies of people. But there is no reason to assume that the innocent were spared God’s wrath. In v. 30 Moses says, “You have sinned a great sin. And now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” In v. 32 Moses tells God, “If Thou wilt not forgive their sin, blot me out of Thy Book,” to which God responds, “Whoever has sinned against me, him will I blot out of My book.”

In Exodus 33 the people mourn when they hear of God’s anger and in v. 6: “Therefore the people of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments, from Mount Horeb onward.” The rest of the chapter is devoted to God agreeing to lead the people and His revealing Himself to Moses. In Exodus 34 Moses prepares two new tablets for the Law and meets God on Mt. Sinai. We find God’s self-revelation in vv. 6-7: “And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, 7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” This self-revelation of God seems to be a counter-point to the Decalogue of Exodus 20.

Moses responds in v. 9, “And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance.” God says, “Behold, I make a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been wrought in all the earth or in any nation; and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD; for it is a terrible thing that I will do with you.”

In light of this, it seems best to conclude that when God says, “The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,” He refers to the nation as a whole, which seems to be His assurance to Moses in v. 10. He does not offer His grace and longsuffering to the individual; He refers to the individual Hebrew in Exodus 32:33: “Whoever has sinned against me, him will I blot out of My book.” – i.e., God will do to the sinner what Moses requested God does to him in v. 32. In none of this does God offer an individual eternal hope.

Leviticus – Although we could have looked at the sacrificial system in Exodus, I instead waited for Leviticus simply because the Exodus account of sacrifices gives no hint of an eternal hope.

Because Christ became the sacrificial Lamb of God, I thought perhaps I would find a connection to His death and with it a glimpse of God’s eternal plan for the believer. Not only do we find an absence of such hope, we discover that God does not offer much in the way of a temporal hope for those who sin willfully.

God instructs Israel in Leviticus 1:4: “he shall lay his hand upon the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.” Many sins that individual Hebrews committed were not a direct, apparent violation of the law. For example, a man has angry thoughts because of what his parents did to him, and then wonders if he has violated the fifth commandment, or he has a sick child that he must tend and wonders if he violated the fourth commandment. In such matters, he wants God to “cover” his possible transgression, and thus he makes this sacrifice.

Leviticus 5:1-2 describes a sacrifice designed for an individual who has opportunity to testify the truth regarding a matter, but refrains, and later regrets his silence. Leviticus 5:20-26 describes the person who commits a crime dealing with another’s property, deceitful acts or theft, robbery, or fraud in which none can verify his crime, and he later comes forward of his own volition and confesses. In these cases, even though the crimes were intentional, God made available expiation because the offender took the initiative and volunteered his guilt. (Cf. Numbers 5:5-7.) If, however, witnesses testify of his guilt, the sinner could not hope for expiation. This is an exception to the law stating that sacrifices cannot cover intentional sin. Still, God makes no mention of the person accruing an eternal hope because he offered such a sacrifice.

Numbers 15:30-31 tell us that willful or defiant people are cut off from the believing community, or in the case of capital offences, they forfeit their lives. Because sacrifice did not atone for willful sin, we need to address the question of Yom Kippur, perhaps the most holy of all Israel’s celebrations. Leviticus 16 outlines the procedure. “The primary objective of expiatory rites like the ones set forth in chapter 16 was to maintain a pure sanctuary. An impure, or defiled, sanctuary induced God to withdraw His presence from the Israelite community…(N)o ritual of purification was actually performed over the people, as was the case on other occasions… Out of love for his people Israel, God manifests His presence among them, but only on condition that the Israelite sanctuary be maintained in a state of purity. God’s forgiveness, coming at the end of the expiatory process, can be anticipated only after the purification of the sanctuary is satisfactorily accomplished.”[12] Note how God words it: “And he shall make atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleannesses of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, even all their sins; and so shall he do for the tent of meeting, that dwelleth with them in the midst of their uncleannesses.”[13] God does not offer any individual an eternal hope, and God does not promise to pardon the individual for willful sin in the temporal.


When Moses pleads before God on behalf of the nation after the Golden Calf incident, he said, “Now therefore, I pray Thee, if I have found grace in Thy sight, show me now Thy ways, that I may know Thee, to the end that I may find grace in Thy sight; and consider that this nation is Thy people.”[14] Moses wanted to understand the ways of God. The Psalmist notes, “He made known His ways unto Moses, His doings unto the children of Israel.”[15] God granted his request; He made known to Moses His ways while the nation only got to see his doings.
One of my prayers through the years has been that God will show me His ways. Seeing Him in action is not enough. In a love relationship we want to do more than observe a person, we want to understand the person.

You can view biblical application from the perspective of a “do list,” or from the perspective of seeking to understand God’s ways – convinced that the better you know Him, the greater your appreciation and the better the chance you will have to emulate Him. All permanent change in a person’s life comes about by the altering of his thinking; to become godly requires understanding Him and thinking His thoughts so that you respond biblically to the circumstances of life.

This doesn’t mean that doing is unimportant. James says, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”[16] In this study on eternal hope, however, I seek to understand the ways of God. Although you will not have many “do list” items, hopefully you will have opportunity to grapple with understanding His ways.

His … Yours,


May 2003

Dear Co-laborer,

Eternal Hope
Part 3


In the material contained in this study, I have endeavored to present as accurately as I can the conclusions of my research. Obviously, this does not mean that I haven’t made mistakes. One of the blessings in sending this to those who love me and seek my good is that you may see something I missed and call it to my attention. I encourage you to do this if you see anything you feel is wrong, or that I missed, or that you feel was inadequately explained.

Man has always wrestled with possibly the most perplexing question in life: What is our reason for existence? The first duty of any religion is to define purpose, not to provide salvation. From this question of purpose flows questions regarding our mortality and our desire for immortality. Most people love their lives and therefore do not want to die. Ponce de Leon’s quest for the Fountain of Youth illustrates this. Additionally, people have recognized that they have at least two parts to them: soul and body. When the body dies, what happens to the soul?

“Religion surely is like an arch resting on one pillar, like a bridge ending in an abyss. It is very gratifying, therefore, to the believer, and a fact worthy of notice, that the affirmative on this question [i.e. defining purpose] is assumed more or less by all the nations of earth, so far as our information reaches at the present day, although, it is true, their views often assume very vague and even materialistic forms….

Bishop Warburton, on the other hand, derived one of his main proofs of the divine mission of Moses from this supposed silence on the subject of immortality. ‘Moses,’ he argues, ‘being sustained in his legislation and government by immediate divine authority, had not the same necessity that other teachers have for a recourse to threatenings and punishments… in order to enforce obedience’…. Moses and Confucius did not expressly teach the immortality of the soul, nay, they seemed purposely to avoid entering upon the subject; they simply took it for granted.” The article concludes: “But, although the position here assumed seems very tenable, it is nevertheless true that the Israelites certainly did not have a very clear conception of the future existence of the soul, and ‘that life and immortality’ were not brought to light very distinctly before Christ came, for whom the office was reserved of making clearly known many high matters before but obscurely indicated.”[17]

Yom Kippur in Israel’s History

In order to understand Yom Kippur, it is necessary to divorce it from New Testament concepts of sin and grace. For example, in the Old Testament God linked illness and disease to sinfulness. Diseases such as leprosy were included under God’s broad category of impurity. Leviticus 14 (cf., esp. v. 7) instructs the priest to take a bird and offer it as expiation for the individual’s uncleanness, while setting another bird free, to communicate the idea of riddance. The scapegoat was also set free, and in bearing the sins of the nation it played a central role in the ritual of Yom Kippur.[18] As Hebrews 9 (cf., esp. v. 7) reminds us, Yom Kippur could not atone for willful sins committed by an individual, only sins committed in ignorance; it was a national rather than an individual expiation. “… Yom Kippur became the major occasion for communal penitence.”[19]

By way of illustration, let’s say that on the Day of Atonement recorded in Leviticus 16, ten people from among the tribes sinned without being exposed. Two of the ten committed adultery, one stole from his neighbor, etc. The nation, ignorant of these sins, offers Yom Kippur in order to assure God’s continued presence with Israel. Although Israel had sinned, the nation’s guilt was expunged by the sacrifice simply because the nation had no way of determining the individual guilt of the law-breakers. If, after Yom Kippur, one who committed such a crime was discovered, he still had to be either expelled from the community or put to death.

When the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies with the blood of a bull, he sprinkled the blood on the Mercy Seat for his own sins committed in ignorance. If he had committed willful sin, he could not have functioned as High Priest. If he was aware of the sins committed in ignorance – i.e., he became impure and learned after the fact that he had done it – he would have offered the appropriate sacrifice at the time. Thus, this sacrifice in the Holy of Holies deals with those sins committed unintentionally and without awareness. Because God ties impurity with sin, the priest would not be acceptable to God without this sacrifice of purification at the beginning of the Yom Kippur ritual.

“That repentance by itself in Numbers (and in the preceding Torah books) is incapable of shriving sin is evident from the fact that Moses never asks God for forgiveness nor his people for repentance. He takes for granted that punishment is the ineluctable consequence of sin. True, he asks for reconciliation (salah, 14:19); however, this means only that God should not abandon Israel but should continue to maintain His covenant with them.”[20] Questions of sin, atonement and retribution in the Torah are always temporal. To the extent the Israelites lacked an eternal hope they must also have lacked a fear of hell.

As noted earlier, God says that He is a “’God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; keeping mercy unto the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin; and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and unto the fourth generation.’”[21] Note that God begins by promising mercy and then calls attention to the fact that mercy does not cancel justice: He merely postpones both to future generations. Thus, God says, “And your children shall be wanderers in the wilderness forty years, and shall bear your strayings, until your carcasses be consumed in the wilderness.”[22] We note the same principle in God dealing with David’s sin – He killed David’s son. God does not bind Himself to individual retribution prevalent in human justice.

After the golden calf incident at Mt. Sinai, note Moses’ intercession and God’s response: “And he said, If now I have found favor in thy sight, O Lord, let the Lord, I pray thee, go in the midst of us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance. And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been wrought in all the earth, nor in any nation; and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of Jehovah; for it is a terrible thing that I do with thee.”[23] Moses does not intercede for sinful individuals, but for the nation – that God will fulfill His gracious covenant with Israel. In response to Moses’ prayer, God does just that; He reaffirms His inviolable commitment to Israel.

God does not offer any individual eternal hope, and God does not promise to pardon the individual for willful sin. He pardons the individual committing sins in ignorance as illustrated by: “And all the fat thereof shall he make smoke upon the altar, as the fat of the sacrifice of peace-offerings; and the priest shall make atonement for him as concerning his sin, and he shall be forgiven.”[24] But when Moses struck the rock, after being told to speak to it, God would not pardon him, even though he pled with God: “But the LORD was wroth with me for your sakes, and hearkened not unto me; and the LORD said unto me: ‘Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto Me of this matter.’”[25]

Although you find ample evidence of people confessing and repenting as a condition for forgiveness in the literature following Deuteronomy, you will not find it the first five books of the Bible. Not only so, nowhere in the Torah will you find God calling upon man to repent, or His representative calling the people to repentance. Israel may commit apostasy, as when the spies reported on the Promised Land in Numbers 14, but God never calls upon the nation to repent. When violating the expectations of God, Israel could expect God’s retribution. In this material, when repentance occurs, people rather than God initiate it. Moses may intercede for the nation, seen in the passage discussed above when Aaron made the golden calf, and he may intercede for an individual, such as his sister Miriam: “’Let her not, I pray, be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother’s womb.’ And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying: ‘Heal her now, O God, I beseech Thee,’”[26] but God does not expect Moses to call the people to repentance in order that they may taste of His grace.

Even in the post-Torah literature, forgiveness of willful sin remains uncertain for both the individual and the nation. For example: “And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God; for He is gracious and compassionate, long-suffering, and abundant in mercy, and repenteth Him of the evil. Who knoweth whether He will not turn and repent, and leave a blessing behind Him…”[27] God does not enact the full force of the law on David for his crimes, but he does taste the terrible consequences of his sin.[28] After God pronounced judgment on the nation, God told Jeremiah not to pray for her.[29]

Israel as a Missionary Nation

We will note, as we process the data contained in Scripture, that the calling of the nations to follow Yahweh without an individual eternal hope, lacks the basis for an individual purpose. God chose Israel, not vice versa. What would a people like the Philistines accrue from following the Lord? They were not chosen, and when comparing the chosen Israel with the surrounding nations, we see that during most of her history Israel enjoyed less temporal blessings than her neighbors, recalling the “terrible thing” of Exodus 34:10.

“It must be remembered that the ger, the resident alien of biblical times, is a far removed from the ger, the convert of rabbinic times. Conversion as such was unknown in the ancient world. Ethnicity was the only criterion for membership in a group. The outsider could join only by marriage (e.g., Ruth). In fact, it was not those who intermarried but the subsequent generations that succeeded in assimilating and even then not always (e.g., Deut. 23:1-9). Some gerim, like the Kenites (Moses’ family; Judg. 1:16), were ultimately absorbed into Israel, presumably by marriage. Others, like the Gibeonites, maintained their slave status throughout the biblical period (Josh. 9:27; cf. Ezra 2:58).

The first glimmer of a new status for the ger is found in the words of the Second Isaiah at the end of the sixth century B.C.E. In the Babylonian exile, non-Jews had been attracted by the Jewish way of life, particularly by the Sabbath. Isaiah calls upon these would-be proselytes to ‘make ‘aliyah’ with the Israelites; and although he cannot promise them that they will be part of the ‘am, the peoplehood of Israel – conversion as such was unknown – he assures them that the Temple service will be open to them because ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples’ (Isa. 56:7). The way is now open to the next stage of religious conversion, a stage already reached by the year 200 B.C.E. At that time Antiochus III issued a decree fining any foreigner who entered the Israelite court of the Temple (equivalent to ‘the entrance of the Tent of Meeting’) the sum of 3,000 silver drachmas, payable to the priests – a far cry from the biblical ger who could enter the Tabernacle court to offer his sacrifices. Clearly, the Jews of the third century B.C.E. were not in violation of the Torah for by then they had reinterpreted the Torah’s ger to denote the convert.”[30]


Before bringing this issue to a close, let me share an observation for the purpose of application. We notice a striking contrast in attitude toward barrenness in the Old Testament vis-à-vis the New Testament. When Rachel could not conceive children, she complained to her husband Jacob that without the ability to have children life was not worth living.[31] The Apostle Paul, on the other hand, encourages women not to marry and have children.[32] In the Old Testament, God did not encourage people to see this life as preparation for eternity; in the New Testament He does.

We must be careful when studying and applying Scripture that we maintain this distinction, lest we invest our time and energy in the temporal – in violation of Jesus’ command to labor for the eternal.[33] God gave His Old Testament saints the task of creating a Theocratic Kingdom in Israel. In the New Testament He charges His people with the task of depopulating hell and populating heaven.

His to command,


July 2003

Eternal Hope
Part 4


In the last issue we looked at Israel as a missionary people. Through the centuries the church has debated the question of whether God did or did not assign to Israel the task of making His name known among the nations. God speaking through His prophet says, “I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and have taken hold of thy hand, and kept thee, and set thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the nations; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house.”[34] The Jews address the question of a missionary mandate as follows: “As in Jer. 1:5, the messenger has been ‘created’ and ‘appointed’ to bring God’s word to the ‘nations.’ In the present case [Isa. 42:2-5] God also calls upon His servant to serve as a ‘covenant’ people and a ‘light of nations.’ These expressions are difficult. Rashi understood the addressee in Isa 42:5 to be the prophet himself, who was called to restore the nations to God’s covenant; these nations are the tribes of Israel. On the other hand, it is possible to interpret the messenger as an individual whose task is to reestablish Israel so that they may serve as a beacon of light for all people (Ibn Ezra). If, however, the messenger is Israel, then the phrase would mean that God has established the entire people for a universal mission (Kimhi).”[35] Thus, we see that the Jews themselves are divided on this subject.[36]

It seems to me that bringing God’s word to the nations implies an eternal hope for the individual, for apart from the hope of heaven, what attract the nations to follow Yahweh? More likely, because God did not give the Old Testament individual the promise of eternal life, the Hebrews never saw bringing the message of Yahweh to other nations as something they should do. Although we cannot be dogmatic on how passages such as Isaiah 42:2-5 should be interpreted, we do know that in the Old Testament God did not give an individual the promise of eternal life, and we find no indication that Israel saw the necessity of encouraging other nations to follow Yahweh. For those who argue that Israel had a missionary obligation to the nations, Naomi certainly didn’t sense it: “And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law.”[37] Naomi encouraged both Orpah and Ruth to return to their gods. To the present time the Jews have never been a missionary people.[38]

In the last issue we also noted that the various words associated with regeneration, the sine quo non of eternal life, such as “contrite, repent, confess,” apply to the nation of Israel but never to the individual, in Genesis through Deuteronomy. This, in turn, attests to the absence of an individual eternal hope in these opening chapters of the Bible. Christianity is a missionary religion simply because the individual’s eternal destiny hangs in the balance, and because we have been commanded to evangelize. If Old Testament Israel had an eternal hope, their failure to evangelize would constitute a cold indifference to the fate of others, contrary to God’s command to love their neighbor. Israel has never been a missionary religion, even to the present time.

In the Pentateuch, you find no reference to the eternal. If I counted correctly, this material uses “Sheol” seven times.[39] Sheol is “the most frequently used term in biblical Hebrew for the abode of the spirits of the dead. The region was imagined to be situated deep beneath the earth and to be enclosed with gates. There is no concept of ‘heaven’ and ‘hell’ in the Hebrew Bible. The underworld received all men – good and bad, great and small – and all are equal there. It was a place of unrelieved darkness and gloom and of complete silence. None who entered it could return. The etymology of the word ‘Sheol’ is uncertain, and the term in unknown in other ancient Semitic languages.”[40] Note Deuteronomy 31:16: “And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Behold, you are about to sleep with your fathers; then this people will rise and play the harlot after the strange gods of the land, where they go to be among them, and they will forsake me and break my covenant which I have made with them.’” The word for “sleep” is: 1) to lie down; 2) to lie down (in death); 3) to rest, relax. In the Septuagint (LXX) it is the same word used in John 11:11 referencing Lazarus being “asleep.”

The concept of humbling oneself before God occurs for the first time in 2 Samuel 22:28: “Thou dost deliver a humble people, but thy eyes are upon the haughty to bring them down.” Again in 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” Prior to that time, Deut. 8:2,16 tells us that God humbled His people in the wilderness. The word “humility” appears the first time in Proverbs 15:33.

We find the word “contrite” for the first time in Psalm 34:18: “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” The word contrition does not appear in the Bible.

The word “repent” first appears in Exodus 13:17: “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, “Lest the people repent when they see war, and return to Egypt.” In this instance, God does not want His people “repenting” in their commitment to Him. It is not until I Kings 8:47 that the people “repent” before God.[41] Other uses prior to this refer to God “repenting.”

“Confession” is a bit different: The word “confess” appears when sacrifice is made to God, but such confession cannot atone for willful sin as seen in Numbers 15:30-31. Words such as “confessed, confession, confessing” do not appear until much later.

Moses, in Deut. 3:23-26, repents of his sin in hitting the Rock instead of speaking to it, but to no avail. He is barred from entering Canaan and God says to Him, “Speak no more unto me of the matter.” Moses’ heart of repentance may have enhanced his relationship with God, but it in no way altered the consequence for the act.

Speaking of the nation rather than the individual, God says in Lev. 26:40-42 and Deut. 4:29-31 that when His people repent God will bring them back to Himself, but in contrast to the prophets, it terminates the punishment rather than preventing its onset. Moses intercedes on behalf of Israel in passages such as Ex. 32:11-14, but not once is he expected to bring Israel to repentance so that they might merit divine forgiveness, and nothing prior to the fact ensures they will be forgiven – save God’s unconditional covenant with the nation. It is to that covenant that Moses appeals! Abraham intercedes on behalf of Lot and his family in Genesis 18:23-33, with God agreeing, but without the cities being spared. Again, Abraham turns to God asking for God to repent; he does not go to Lot or Sodom seeking their repentance.

In Numbers 14 the nation repents that it responded in unbelief when the spies returned with an evil report, but to no avail; they wandered in the wilderness forty years.

In Deut 30:1-10 Moses prophecies Israel’s return to the Promised Land after God scatters them. In a promise similar to the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31, he says in Deuteronomy 30:6: “And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.” This, like Jeremiah 31, applies to the nation rather than to the individual.

I can think of no place in the OT where a person was warned of eternal consequences for temporal behavior. The sacrificial system covered sins, meaning that the “offender” did not have to face temporal consequences. Capital offenses listed in Leviticus rested outside the atoning of sacrifice, and the author does not discuss what happens to the person when he dies. Sheol was/is the abode of the dead, and as already noted, evidence suggests that both the good and evil dwell there.

Reflections on Joshua, Judges, and Ruth

God comments on Israel passing into the promised land: “When all the kings of the Amorites that were beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites that were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of the Jordan for the people of Israel until they had crossed over, their heart melted, and there was no longer any spirit in them, because of the people of Israel. At that time the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Make flint knives and circumcise the people of Israel again the second time.’ So Joshua made flint knives, and circumcised the people of Israel at Gibeathhaaraloth. And this is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the males of the people who came out of Egypt, all the men of war, had died on the way in the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt. Though all the people who came out had been circumcised, yet all the people that were born on the way in the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt had not been circumcised. For the people of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the nation, the men of war that came forth out of Egypt, perished, because they did not hearken to the voice of the LORD; to them the LORD swore that he would not let them see the land which the LORD had sworn to their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. So it was their children, whom he raised up in their stead, that Joshua circumcised; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not been circumcised on the way. When the circumcising of all the nation was done, they remained in their places in the camp till they were healed. And the LORD said to Joshua, ‘This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.’ And so the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day. While the people of Israel were encamped in Gilgal they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at evening in the plains of Jericho. And on the morrow after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. And the manna ceased on the morrow, when they ate of the produce of the land; and the people of Israel had manna no more, but ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.” [42]

When Israel passed over Jordan on dry ground (a repeat of the parting of the Red Sea), several things transpired: 1) – The surrounding nations trembled at Israel’s presence. Rahab said, “For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt.”[43] The nations knew of the parting of the Red Sea, and now saw the parting of Jordan. 2) – The men of Israel were circumcised. God had commanded that the male children be circumcised: “And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.”[44] Israel neglected this clear command, and God did not rebuke them. You cannot predict the response of God when you neglect or break His commands. We are best served living in obedience to His will. 3) – It took the army several days to heal from their circumcision, during which time they were vulnerable to attack from the enemy. The walk of faith requires His followers to step outside their comfort level. (Interestingly, they would not have had to demonstrate their vulnerability if they had obeyed God and circumcised their children when commanded.) 4) – “This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” Moses said: “lest the land from which thou didst bring us say, ‘Because the LORD was not able to bring them into the land which he promised them, and because he hated them, he has brought them out to slay them in the wilderness.’”[45] This reproach involved the thoughts and sayings of the Egyptians that God had brought the Israelites out of Egypt to destroy them in the wilderness. When Israel circumcised the males, God declared the restoration of the covenant that He would give Israel the land of Canaan for their inheritance. 5) – Israel arrived in Canaan the first day of their new year, and celebrated the Passover. Deliverance from Egypt was now completed. 6) – At that time the manna ceased; Israel began eating of the fruit of the Promised Land. 7) – Joshua meets the Commander of God’s army, thus assuring that victory is certain.


Nothing in the first eight books of the Bible indicates that people looked to God for salvation through the forgiveness of their sins. God’s inviolable commitment to Israel meant that, upon repentance, the nation would be forgiven its sins and restored to God. But nothing in the material indicates that the people saw in this a picture of how God relates to the individual. God made an unconditional commitment to Abraham (God never charged Abraham with a wrong), and possibly to Isaac and Jacob, but to no other individual in these books – not even to Moses. (In Exodus 32:11-14, Moses pleads for the nation, but not for any particular individual.) But this individual commitment involved their progeny, not the eternal destiny of the individual.

From the New Testament we learn that certain people in the Old Testament had a belief in an afterlife. Speaking of the Patriarchs, the author of Hebrews says, “For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.”[46] Although the OT does not promise individual salvation, those who attained it did so by believing God when He promised temporal blessing, such as deliverance from enemies (e.g. as seen in the Pascal Lamb). We have no evidence to suggest that this faith extended to looking to God for the forgiveness of their sins.

Rejoicing in His grace,

September 2003

Dear Co-laborer,

Eternal Hope
Part 5


Some of you who read this have responded to my request for feedback. One of the brothers asked if an eternal hope and belief in an afterlife are the same or different. It was a distinction I had not thought about. I believe the distinction exists, and would like to articulate what I believe are some of the ramifications.

It seems to me that most people believe in something after death. All religions have this belief in common. Only a minority believes that when a person dies he ceases to exist. The Hebrews who lived as slaves in Egypt were exposed to a belief in an afterlife – as attested by the pyramids. With or without a promise of eternal life to the individual in the Old Testament, I think the average Hebrew believed in an afterlife, even though it may have consisted in nothing more than an eternity in Sheol. A belief in an afterlife however is very different from an eternal hope.

Hebrews 11:1 says: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hope defines the object of our faith; we express faith in the direction of our hope. In the Greek, faith and believe are the same word; faith is the noun and believe is the verb. Faith/believe is commitment without knowing. Therefore we can define faith as “risk taking.” When we say that we have faith in the airline getting us to our destination, or we have faith in the surgeon’s ability to perform a successful operation, we are saying that we take a risk in flying or having surgery.

Thus, hope defines the object of our faith. We say we hope the operation will be successful, or we hope we will arrive safely at our destination. We define hope in terms of what we perceive to be gain. We never say that we hope the operation will be a failure, or we hope we lose our money invested in the stock market; we always say the opposite. In summary, we take our risks in the direction of what we consider to be gain.

Biblical faith is always active, never passive. James talks about a passive faith: “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”[47] Faith without taking the risk of obedience is “dead faith.” James says, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”[48] We demonstrate our hope in the promises of God by being His obedient servants; the risk of faith is found in obedience.

We can have a strong conviction in an afterlife without being the obedient servants of God. Thus, we can say that we hope in eternal life, but because we take no risks in the direction of that hope, we cannot, in a biblical sense, say that we hope in the fulfillment of God’s promises. The existence of hope always requires risks. James says such people have a “dead faith:” “faith without works is dead.”[49]

We can easily deceive ourselves on this issue: We can confuse obedience with agreement. Many appear to obey God in the sense that they agree with His expectations; they are moral people. You cannot say that you obey God unless you have confronted the issue of finding yourself not wanting to do His will, voted against yourself, and did it anyway. For example, the only recorded instance of Jesus meeting God’s will and not wanting to do it is the agony through which He went in the Garden of Gethsemane. “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.”[50] We learn obedience when we, like Jesus, know God’s will and don’t want to pay the price of doing it, but because of our eternal hope, nevertheless obey Him.

Many in the body of Christ live lives of selective obedience, that is, they “obey” when they agree. If they don’t wish to obey, they call the biblical command “cultural,” or they say, “I know God prohibits divorce, but He wants me to be happy, and besides, He will forgive me.” Such people may believe in life after death, and even say they have an eternal hope, but James says that their faith is dead.

Hebrews 11 gives an account of Old Testament saints who had an active faith, taking risks in the direction of their hope: “And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: 33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: 36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”[51] So also, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego demonstrated an eternal hope when they chose the fiery furnace: “If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us, He will deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and out of thy hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”[52]

So we see then, that many of God’s people in the Old Testament had an eternal hope, demonstrated by the risks they took in choosing death rather than disobedience – in spite of Scripture never recording the promise of an eternal hope to the individual. Conversely, many today claim the promises of an eternal hope offered in the New Testament, while refusing to take the risks inherent in a life of obedience. Such people deceive themselves. They think they have an eternal hope when in reality they have nothing more than a belief in an afterlife.

As one of the brothers said, “Most people, professing Christians as well as non-Christians, have definite beliefs about the afterlife, at least as it pertains to them. Most professing Christians think their afterlife will be no different from the apostle Paul’s. They would either not agree with or not understand the distinction you make when you tie hope to obedience. So in their thinking, belief in an afterlife is synonymous with an eternal hope. They hope to spend eternity with Jesus, just as you and I do. All this to say that I would characterize their problem as being out of touch with what the Bible teaches.”

Continued reflections on Joshua, Judges, and Ruth

From the death of Moses to the death of Joshua, God expressed no displeasure with Israel, except in the case of Achan taking of the spoils of Jericho. With Achan, the nation responded in accordance with the command of God, and all was well. When the individual sins and the nation responds biblically, God is satisfied and the nation remains secure.

Israel spent the time between the deaths of Moses and Joshua in war as she conquered the land. Judges records a series of cameos in which Israel continually strays from God. When Israel is secure she sins and when in captivity, she repents. We are never more vulnerable to temptation than when all is well. Tribulation stimulates dependence.

God calls to Israel’s mind His deliverance from Egypt when the people sin and need deliverance from their enemies. “When the people of Israel cried to the LORD on account of the Midianites, the LORD sent a prophet to the people of Israel; and he said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: I led you up from Egypt, and brought you out of the house of bondage; and I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians, and from the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you, and gave you their land; and I said to you, `I am the LORD your God; you shall not pay reverence to the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.’ But you have not given heed to my voice.”[53]

Salvation/deliverance by God for the nation of Israel began in Egypt and had nothing to do with the people’s sin. Jesus used the Passover to commemorate His death. It dealt with temporal deliverance rather than eternal deliverance. Thus, when David gave thanks when bringing the ark to Gibeon from the home of Obed-edom, he prayed: “Say also: ‘Deliver us, O God of our salvation, and gather and save us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to thy holy name, and glory in thy praise. Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting!” Then all the people said ‘Amen!’ and praised the LORD.”[54] Salvation was God’s deliverance from the hostile nations. So also David prayed when God promised to establish his house forever: “What other nation on earth is like thy people Israel, whom God went to redeem to be his people, making for thyself a name for great and terrible things, in driving out nations before thy people whom thou didst redeem from Egypt?”[55]

Scripture teaches that “believing” God constitutes the condition that people in both the Old and New Testaments must meet in order to have a relationship with Him. But God, not man, defines the content of what must be believed; we cannot assume because we must believe that we are sinners in need of God’s salvation that God imposed the same condition on the people of Israel.

Grateful for an eternal hope,

November 2003

Dear Co-laborer,

Eternal Hope
Part 6


In this series, we have been looking at what the Old Testament teaches about eternity, and thus, trying to understand how the nation of Israel viewed issues of salvation and the hope of heaven. As noted in an earlier issue, at least 17 times from Judges to Nehemiah, God makes reference to the fact that He delivered Israel from Egypt. The word “salvation” appears about 63 times in Psalms, and most, if not all of these references, apply to temporal salvation. At least 56 times “deliver/deliverance” appears, but I am less certain about the eternal/temporal distinction; I am not sure if the phrase “deliver my soul” refers to the temporal or the eternal.

Note the response of Israel to Joseph’s request regarding his bones: “And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.”[56] It is said of Jacob: “And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for an hundred pieces of money.”[57] In Genesis 34 Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi killed all the males in Shechem because of what they did to their sister. When Joseph died, he wanted his bones buried in the parcel of ground owned by his father; this “and the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre,” were the only two parcels Israel owned before the conquest of Joshua. When Abraham and Jacob bought these two parcels, no mention was made of an eternal hope; Joseph did not say that his desire to be buried in the Promised Land was linked to an eternal hope. The generations of people living between Abraham and Joshua never realized the fulfillment of God’s promise: “In that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: ‘Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.”[58]

References to Eternity in I Samuel through II Kings

1 Samuel – You will find the word “heaven” mentioned twice[59] in this book, neither of which refers to where people go, but rather to where God goes. “Sheol” is mentioned once, in the psalm of Hannah (after God gave her Samuel): “The LORD killeth, and maketh alive; He bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.”[60]

God rejects Saul as king of Israel, after which Saul fights the Philistines. Distraught because God refuses to give Saul counsel, the king goes to the Witch of Endor. God had commanded that all witches, fortune-tellers, etc. be executed,[61] and Saul had placed such an indictment on them.[62] This Witch of Endor, though the anathema to God, had the ability to call Samuel, the prophet of God, back from the dead. Samuel protests, “Why have you disturbed me and brought me up?” Where was Samuel after he died, and how did the witch garner the authority to call him back from the grave?

2 Samuel – David mentions neither “heaven” nor “Sheol” in his dirge after the death of Saul and Jonathan.[63] At the end of his life, David uses the word “Sheol” (the only time the word is used in 2 Samuel) in his psalm: “The cords of Sheol surrounded me; the snares of Death confronted me.”[64] This book mentions “heaven” four times, and in each case “heaven” probably refers to the sky rather than to the abode of God; I can find no mention of “heaven” referring to where people go after death.[65]

David commits adultery and murder, after which Nathan the prophet confronts David with God’s judgment; He will kill the child of this adulterous relationship. (Interesting – The Law says adultery is a capital offense,[66] and so God kills the child rather than the adulterer.) David pleads with God for the life of his son, and when the child dies, David says, “I shall go to him, but he will never come back to me.”[67] Those of us who tend to interpret such passages from a New Testament perspective conclude that the child went to heaven and David, when he died, followed him there. But the passage can as easily be interpreted to mean, “I shall join the child in Sheol.”

Returning to David’s psalm at the close of his life, he says: “For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God. For all His ordinances were before me; and as for His statutes, I did not depart from them. And I was single-hearted toward Him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity. Therefore hath the LORD recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to my cleanness in His eyes.”[68] Evidently, David’s relationship with God was such that even though he committed murder and adultery, God viewed him as a righteous man, one who had not “departed from” Him. As we will note in the Psalms, David’s confidence in God’s acceptance of “a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart”[69] in light of such reprehensible behavior, constitutes entirely new revelation.

1 Kings – The word “Sheol,” used in the RSV and translated “grave” in the KJV (and sometimes “hell”) and NAS, appears 65 times in the Bible. When David prepares to die, he says to Solomon, “I am about to go the way of all the earth… Then David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David”.[70]” He expresses no hope of being with God or going to heaven. In 2 Samuel 7, David hopes in the perpetuation of His kingdom, not eternal life for himself.

When David counsels his son Solomon, he tells him, “Do therefore according to thy wisdom, and let not his hoar head go down to the grave in peace,”[71] referring to Joab, the commander of Israel’s armies. There are only two references[72] to “Sheol” in 1 Kings. Of the fifteen references to “heaven” (most found in Solomon’s prayer dedicating the Temple), all pertain either to where God lives or the sky above, and none to where man goes. I can find no reference to the eternal, with the possible exception of God’s promise to Solomon regarding the nation, “If you will keep my laws… I will abide among the children of Israel, and I will never forsake My people Israel.”[73] Nothing in this material suggests that God committed Himself eternally to the individual.

In Solomon’s dedication of the Temple he says, “If they sin against thee — for there is no man who does not sin — and thou art angry with them, and dost give them to an enemy, so that they are carried away captive to the land of the enemy, far off or near.”[74] This is the first indication that I have found that God’s people in the OT called themselves sinners.[75] (As noted above, David considered himself a righteous man, even though he committed murder and adultery.) This, of course, does not include the Psalms, Proverbs, or Ecclesiastes. Solomon may be referring to “sins committed in ignorance,” for which sacrifice had to be made.

From 1 Kings 13 forward, during the time of the divided kingdom, God displays His supernatural power through a series of miracles, including raising the dead,[76] all performed by His prophets. From these the people can clearly see that Yahweh rules the world. But could they legitimately conclude that they would be with Him when they died? I can find no commitment from God to this effect in the Old Testament.

God, speaking to Solomon, said: “But if you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them; and the house which I have consecrated for my name I will cast out of my sight; and Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples.”[77] Prior to the Monarchy, God held the people accountable for keeping the law and receiving His favor. Now, God holds the king accountable. If the king sins, the people suffer. This pattern can be seen throughout the time of the Monarchy.

2 Kings – The phrase “slept with his fathers” appears eleven times in 1 Kings, fourteen times in 2 Kings, eleven times in 2 Chronicles, and not at all in 1 Chronicles. Each time the phrase refers to the destiny of a king, irrespective of whether he was good or bad.

Earlier we noted that the departure of Elijah in a fiery chariot was one of the evidences of an individual eternal hope in the Old Testament. “And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, which parted them both assunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.”[78] We can only guess at what the people of Elijah’s day thought had happened to him (did the prophet Samuel go to a different place?), but Malachi the prophet promises Elijah’s return in the last days: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.”[79]

Isaiah the prophet came to Hezekiah, one of Judah’s good kings, with news that he was about to die. “Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the LORD, saying: ‘Remember now, O LORD, I beseech Thee, how I have walked before Thee in truth and with a whole heart, and have done that which is good in Thy sight.’ And Hezekiah wept sore.”[80] We of course cannot know whether King Hezekiah had an eternal hope, but his view of death indicates that he did not. The Apostle Paul said, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”[81]

Closing Comments

In Matthew 18 Peter asked Jesus how often he should forgive – seven times? Jesus responds to this magnanimous gesture on Peter’s part with “seven times seventy.” I think all would agree that He did not mean after 490 times we would be through. Nothing in revealed religion up to this point would have suggested that such a thing is possible – that God will forgive us an unlimited number of times. Numbers 15:30-31 tells us that God will not forgive willful sin. When Moses sinned (the only recorded time of his sinning) God denied him entrance into the Promised Land. When David committed murder and adultery, although God forgave him, David paid dearly for his crime. It would be preposterous to assume that David, on the basis of God’s forgiveness, could have committed those crimes again and again be forgiven by God! As I said, nothing up to this time would have led a person to conclude that God will forgive seven times, much less seven times seventy.

Never lose your sense of awe that God, irrespective of the number of times the believer sins, will nonetheless forgive the broken and contrite heart. Charles Wesley, the hymn writer, wrote: “And can it be that I should gain an interest in my Saviors blood? Died He for me who caused His pain, for me whom Him to death pursued? Amazing grace. How can it be that Thou my God should die for me?” Likewise, never lose sight of the fact that God’s forgiveness does not eliminate eternal accountability for those sins.

His… Yours,

January 2004

Dear Co-laborer,

Eternal Hope
Part 7


It is interesting to note, when considering eternal hope, that the Hebrew word “forever” (olam) appears more than 300 times in the Old Testament. It can refer to anything between remote time and perpetuity. No general word exits for time in Hebrew, nor for ideas like past, present, future, and eternity.[82] Combined with “live,” i.e., “live forever” olam appears approximately thirteen times. Of these, the first references the Tree of Life: “And the LORD God said: ‘Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.’”[83] Another refers to God: “For I lift up My hand to heaven, and say: As I live for ever…”[84] Six more appear in reference to the phrase, “Let the king live forever.” Job says that he does not want to live forever, obviously referring to temporal existence: “I loathe my life; I would not live for ever. Let me alone, for my days are a breath.”[85] In the Psalms David say, “The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live forever!”[86] I am not sure if David means eternally, or if he uses it in the sense of “Let the king live forever.” Another Psalm calls attention to the folly of trusting in wealth, noting that such a person thinks, “that he should continue to live on for ever, and never see the Pit.”[87] Finally, the prophet reminds the people: “Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever?”[88]

Most translations render olam “everlasting” when referring to God or His commitment to Israel. For example, the Lord says to Abraham, “And I will establish My covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee.”[89] The Lord refers to Himself as an “everlasting God.” “And Abraham planted a tamarisk-tree in Beer-sheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God.”[90] Note that Jacob, when blessing his sons, says that God “…said unto me: Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a company of peoples; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession.”[91] God calls His commandments “everlasting:” “’And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make atonement for the children of Israel because of all their sins once in the year.’ And he did as the LORD commanded Moses.”[92] When Moses blesses the nation, he talks of the land in the same terms: “And for the tops of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the everlasting hills.”[93]

When Isaiah prophesizes against the wicked he says, “The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling hath seized the ungodly: ‘Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?’”[94] Does olam mean “eternal,” or is the NAS correct when it translates the word “continual?” When Isaiah talks of the return of the Jews he says, “And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”[95] Again, should olam be read to mean “eternal” or “continual?” When prophesizing the ultimate restoration of Israel he says, “O Israel, that art saved by the LORD with an everlasting salvation; ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.”[96] When condemning the false prophets, does Jeremiah mean that “everlasting” and “perpetual” are the same, or different? “… and I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.”[97]

Ad, another Hebrew word similar to olam, can mean “eternal, forever,” etc., usually denoting the unforeseeable future. Thus, the prophet uses the word to communicate, “He standeth, and shaketh the earth, He beholdeth, and maketh the nations to tremble; and the everlasting (ad) mountains are dashed in pieces, the ancient (olam) hills do bow; His goings are as of old (olam).”[98]

These references, all using olam and ad, call attention to the ambiguity you face when choosing an English equivalent. From what I can tell, the context seldom helps; mostly you must decide on the basis of your theological bias.

Reflections on 1 Chronicles through Nehemiah

1 Chronicles – When King David brought the Ark of God from the house of Obed-edom, he commissioned Asaph to write a Psalm, which in part says, “Remember His covenant for ever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations; The covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath unto Isaac; And He established it unto Jacob for a statute, to Israel for an everlasting covenant.”[99] Here we see a clear “everlasting covenant” established with the nation. I know of no such commitment on the part of God to an individual in the Old Testament. David wanted to build a house for God (Temple) and God wanted to build a house for David (dynasty).[100] This covenant with David regarding his dynasty was perpetual, but God never promised David eternal life.

David warns his son Solomon as he is about to turn his kingdom over to his son: “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father, and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will cast you off for ever.”[101] Note the conditional aspect of the relationship; evidently, forsaking God was an unpardonable sin. Later David prays, “For we are sojourners before Thee, and tenants, as all our fathers were; our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no hope.”[102] Does David tell us that he died with no hope, or that this life contains nothing worthy of a man’s hope? If the latter, then David does not amplify by telling us the object of his hope or that he has an eternal hope.

2 Chronicles – The word “heaven” appears 24 times in this book, 12 of them in Solomon’s dedication of the Temple. All refer either to the abode of God or the sky above, and none to the object of man’s hope. “Sheol” and “hope” do not appear in 2 Chronicles, nor does any expression of man’s anticipating an eternity with God when he dies.

Ezra – Ezra, possibly the first scribe,[103] was commissioned of God to get the Temple rebuilt after Cyrus decreed that the Jews could return to the Promise Land. Upon laying the foundation of the Temple, the people rejoiced: “And they sang one to another in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD: ‘for He is good, for His mercy endureth for ever toward Israel.’ And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.”[104] At the end of the book of Ezra, the people repent of their sin of intermarrying, and in their prayer say: “Now therefore give not your daughters unto their sons, neither take their daughters unto your sons, nor seek their peace or their prosperity for ever; that ye may be strong, and eat the good of the land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children for ever.”[105] These are the only two verses using olam in Ezra. The first refers to God’s covenant with Israel, and the second with an appeal on the part of the Jews to be God’s covenant children. The word “heaven” appears nine times, all in the phrase “the God of heaven.” In their prayer acknowledging their guilt regarding marrying foreign wives, the people refer to their “hope” in God.[106] This is the only use of “hope” in Ezra; the word “Sheol” does not appear at all.

As far as I can tell, Ezra doesn’t mention anything pertaining to the eternal, with the possible exception of the above two verses using the word olam. No individual expresses hope in spending eternity with God and God does not offer eternal life to any individual.

Nehemiah – The book of Nehemiah follows the same pattern as Ezra with the exception that God commissions Ezra with the task of rebuilding the Temple, Nehemiah with rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. Four of the ten times he uses “heaven” referencing “the God of heaven,” with the rest referencing where God lives, what God does from heaven, or the sky from which acts of God come. At no time does he refer to heaven as the place where people go. He uses olam “forever/everlasting” three times, once in reference to the king: “And I said unto the king: ‘Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?’”[107] Twice he uses it in reference to God: “Then the Levites, Jeshua, and Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said: ‘Stand up and bless the LORD your God from everlasting to everlasting; and let them say: Blessed be Thy glorious Name, that is exalted above all blessing and praise.”[108]

The words “hope” and “Sheol” do not appear. As with Ezra, I cannot find any individual expressing even a desire to be with God in heaven forever, nor can I find God making such an offer to an individual.


In the OT, because God committed Himself to the nation and established no eternal commitment to any individual, and because no individual expressed an eternal hope, we can conclude that from the OT people’s perspective, there would be no need for Messiah to function as a sin substitute. God did not say anything in the OT, that I can find, that suggests the need for propitiation. I tie the propitious death of Christ to an eternal hope, for without an eternal hope, why would the death of Christ be necessary? In the Old Testament, God’s people don’t look for Him who would be “just and the justifier,” for the temporal circumstances of those favored by God do not differ appreciably from the circumstances of those who ignore God. Can we say, for example, that the temporal circumstances of Israel were more favorable than those of ancient Midian, Moab, Philistia, Greece or Rome? I think not. For this reason (as noted in an earlier issue), Naomi counseled her daughter’s in law to return to their gods; she saw no practical reason to encourage Ruth to worship the God of Israel. God killed her husband and two sons. Why would Ruth consider the worship of Yahweh superior to that of the gods of Moab?

When the OT Hebrew committed willful sin, no redemption remained open to him; he was either executed or exiled.[109] Christ’s death for the satisfaction of sin only becomes relevant from an eternal perspective. The moment you introduce the possibility of an eternal hope, you are forced to answer the question, “How can a holy and just God take the sinner to heaven without violating His justice and making heaven dirty?” Without this eternal dimension, you may see from the perspective of ultimate reality why people should worship Yahweh, but you find no pragmatic reason.

Grateful for the hope of heaven,

May, 2004

Eternal Hope
Part 8


As we noted in the last issue, no general word exits for time in Hebrew, nor for ideas like past, present, future, and eternity. From this we noted that the context seldom helps; mostly you must decide on the basis of your theological bias.

Beginning with this issue we will briefly look at the book of Esther, and then the devotional literature of the Old Testament – Job through Ecclesiastes.

Reflections on Esther

Many have questioned the presence of the book of Esther in the Old Testament. You find no mention of God in the book. Words like “forever, everlasting, eternal, redemption, forgiveness, forgive, brokenness, dependence, contrite, spirit,” cannot be found. You find no reference to relating to God, either as a nation or as an individual, much less expressing an eternal hope.

Mordecai required the daughter of his uncle to compete for the hand of a pagan monarch in a beauty contest in which each contestant spent one night with the king, after which, if she did not “win,” she spent the rest of her life in his harem. God had expressly forbidden Jews marring outside of their race, as so forcefully illustrated in both Ezra and Nehemiah. Nothing about Mordecai affirms that he followed Yahweh in any meaningful way. Esther makes no reference to her own faith in God. The most you can say about her is she obeyed Mordecai, her authority figure.

Reflections on Job

Although the authorship and date of Job remain a mystery, the following can be deduced from internal evidence: Job wishes to engage God in conversation, expecting such to be possible, and shows no surprise when God at last comes to him. You find a highly developed moral code throughout the book; the author makes frequent reference to not abusing the widow, orphan and poor. We see in the book that Job was not deceitful and walked in integrity, and considers adultery wrong. Bildad says: “How then can man be righteous before God? How can he who is born of woman be clean? Behold, even the moon is not bright and the stars are not clean in his sight; how much less man, who is a maggot, and the son of man, who is a worm!”[110] In this he shows that he believes in the depravity of man. No reference is made to the Mosaic Law, and Job offers sacrifices for his family. Still, you find no unclean animals (such as pigs) in his flocks, nor are any mentioned in the book. In light of this, Job probably takes place sometime between the Flood and the Exodus, and may have been written by Moses whose education in Pharaoh’s court prepared him for his literary work.

One of the most familiar passages in Job dealing with an eternal hope comes from the mouth of Job himself: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then from my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!”[111] Because this seems to be an oasis in a desert of eternal hopelessness, I spent time trying to decipher what Job says. Keil-Delitzsch seems to give the best interpretation: “God Himself will avenge Job’s blood, i.e. against his accusers, who say that it is the blood of one who is guilty… We cannot in this speech find that the hope of a bodily recovery is expressed… he looks for certain death, and will hear nothing of the consolation of recovery (ch. xvii. 10-16), which sounds to him as mere mockery; that he, however, notwithstanding, does not despair of God, but by the consciousness of his innocence and the uncharitableness of the friends, is more and more impelled from the God of wrath and caprice to the God of love, his future Redeemer; and that then, when at the end of the course of suffering the actual proof of God’s love breaks through the seeming manifestation of wrath, even that which God had not ventured to hope is realized: a return of temporal prosperity beyond his entreaty and comprehension.”[112] However, even if we take exception with this Old Testament commentator, we still find no promise of an eternal hope given by God.

Let’s look at another passage needing analysis: “If a man die, may he live again? All the days of my service would I wait, till my relief should come.”[113] Again Keil and Delitzsch say: “…Job wishes that Hades (Sheol), into which the wrath of God now precipitates him for ever, may only be a temporary place of safety for him, until the wrath of God turn away… that God would appoint to him… and when this limit should be reached, again remember him in mercy. This is a wish that Job marks out for himself. The reality is indeed different: ‘if a man dies, will he live again?’ The answer that Job’s consciousness, ignorant of anything better, alone can give is: No, there is no life after death. It is, however, none the less a craving of his heart that gives rise to the wish; it is the most favorable thought, – a desirable possibility, – which, if it were but a reality, would comfort him under all present suffering: ‘all the days of my warfare would I wait until my change came.’”[114] As Job says in a rhetorical question, “But man dieth, and lieth low; yea, man perisheth, and where is he?”[115] The context of his remarks suggests that he would answer, “he doesn’t continue to live!”

The thesis of the book requires a belief in judgment and accountability after death. The argument of Bildad, Zophar and Eliphaz centers on the idea that Justice demands accountability and that right verses wrong is more than an abstract concept in the mind of man. Job does not argue against such reasoning, but rather that you cannot guarantee that you can find it in this life. The Law of the Harvest[116] requires an afterlife where the just and unjust reap what they have sown.

If Job in fact had an eternal hope, evidenced from these verses, it seems to me that its significance would have been so overwhelming that he would not have ignored it through the rest of his discourses. Instead, Job says, “When a cloud vanishes, it is gone, So he who goes down to Sheol does not come up.”[117]

The word “conscience” does not appear in Job. Still, he appeals to his conscience when defending himself against Providence, and uses this in rebutting his three friends.

When Elihu enters the dialogue late in the book, he says: “Then He is gracious unto him, and saith: ‘Deliver him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom.’ His flesh is tenderer than a child’s; he returneth to the days of his youth; He prayeth unto God, and He is favourable unto him; so that he seeth His face with joy; and He restoreth unto man his righteousness. He cometh before men, and saith: ‘I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not.’ So He redeemeth his soul from going into the pit, and his life beholdeth the light.”[118] Note Elihu’s use of words in these verses: “ransom”[119] and “redeemed.” The context appears to be temporal rather than eternal; God will deliver Job from his temporal consequences. The word “redeemer” appears only in Job 19:25, discussed above, and “redeem” as follows: “In famine He will redeem thee from death; and in war from the power of the sword.”[120] Here Eliphaz, in seeking to show that you can apply the Law of the Harvest to the temporal, argues that God will redeem the righteous from premature death. “’Deliver me from the adversary’s hand’? or: ‘Redeem me from the hand of the oppressors’?”[121] In his rebuttal to Eliphaz, Job questions the assertion that God redeems people from temporal circumstances.

For years I assumed the presence of an eternal hope in the Old Testament based on passages such as those discussed above. When I strip my mind of all assumptions, seeking to resist reading back into the Old Testament the hope proffered in the New Testament, I find the eternal hope evaporating. I don’t mean by this that the Old Testament saints necessarily lacked an eternal hope, only that God did not offer them an eternal hope.

As stated in the first issue, Hebrews 11 clearly teaches that the Patriarchs had an eternal hope. However, with the frequent expression of God’s people anticipating Sheol,[122] I am left wondering if the Old Testament saints actually had an eternal hope, or whether the New Testament imputes such a hope to them.


Consider the three words “selfless,” “selfish,” and “self-interest.” The New Testament encourages “self-interest;” it discourages “selfishness.” You manifest “selfishness” vis-à-vis “self-interest” when resources are limited. Because the resources of heaven are inexhaustible, God motivates the believer with “self-interest.”

Because, in the Old Testament, God makes no promise of eternal life to the individual, He admonishes His people to be “selfless” rather than “selfish.” Combined with this you note in the Old Testament the absence of the worth of the individual and the presence of an emphasis on the communal good as an end in itself rather than as the means by which to accrue eternal gain.

Man has always perceived that he can escape the temporal consequences of his behavior, if he does not overdue it. What person has not exceeded the speed limit? Of course, the more successful you are in escaping such consequences, the more bold you become in stretching your luck. You can see why, to the degree that a person does not believe in eternal consequences for temporal behavior, he will make morality relative in his own life, committing all manner of evil. This appears to be the case with the Hebrews in the Old Testament. Their behavior was not all that different from that of their pagan neighbors, simply because they saw no temporal benefit from obeying God. As we will note in the next issue, in David’s Psalms he talks about such people, and how they don’t appear to be held accountable.

Seeking to be His obedient servant,

July, 2004

Eternal Hope
Part 9


In our study of Genesis through Job we note that God never offered to the individual the promise of spending eternity with Him, and no individual expressed the hope of eternal life. God committed Himself with a gracious covenant to the nation of Israel, and He gave the Law, through Moses, establishing the basis on which the nation should be governed. When He gave the Law, God did not entertain the possibility that the individual could not meet His expectations, and thus He offered no expiation followed by restoration.[123]

Reviewing what we found in the first five books (Torah), we note: “That repentance by itself in Numbers (and in the preceding Torah books) is incapable of shriving sin is evident from the fact that Moses never asks God for forgiveness nor his people for repentance. He takes for granted that punishment is the ineluctable consequence of sin. True, he asks for reconciliation (cf. Numbers 14:19); however, this means only that God should not abandon Israel but should continue to maintain His covenant with them.”[124]

Continuing through the Old Testament, justification through the propitious work of Christ finds no place. Consequently, no one thought of relating to God on the basis of grace rather than works. Up to this point, only Moses breaks the Law without forfeiting his relationship with God. He is an anomaly in that Scripture never addresses why God didn’t exact justice from him.[125] From the perspective of the Old Testament saint, if he kept the Law, he was assured of being part of that group to whom God graciously committed Himself; if he willfully violated the Law he was either exiled or executed.

When the church embraced the view that it replaced Israel, you can easily see how they incorporated into their dogma a works-righteousness as the path to salvation. “The Church offered many ways of bridging the gap between God the Holy and man the wrongdoer. The first is the way of self-help. This was the point at which monasticism, as already indicated, afforded the greatest opportunity. As contrasted with life in the world, any form of monasticism appeared more rigorous and worthy of reward.”[126]

So too, Pope Gregory, who died in 605, said: “My pastoral responsibilities now compel me to have dealings with worldly men, and after the unclouded beauty of my former peace, it seems that my mind is bespattered with the mire of daily affairs.” [127] Just as the people of Israel were to have no dealings with the world, and especially the Levitical High Priest kept himself pure and unpolluted, so the Pope and all who wished to attain a holy life. The secular/spiritual distinction was absolute.

If Israel is the church in the Old Testament, and if the continuity of God’s program flows unchanged from the Old to the New Testament, then you have to find the offer of eternal hope and personal salvation in the Old Testament. Otherwise, what does the Old Testament Church look like? John says, “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”[128] Even apart from “His Son,” where in the Old Testament do you lead me to see this “record that God hath given to us eternal life?”

Reflections on the Psalms

A bit of background on the exposition of the Psalms may be in order as we begin: “Our Lord Himself, both before and after His resurrection, unfolded the meaning of the Psalms from His own life and its vicissitudes… He opened up to the disciples the meaning of the Psalms. How strongly they were drawn to the Psalms is seen from the fact that they are quoted about seventy times in the New Testament, which, next to Isaiah, is more frequently than any other Old Testament book… The interpreters of the early church with the exception of Origen and Jerome possessed no knowledge of the Hebrew tongue, and even these two not sufficient to be able to rise to freedom from a dependence upon the LXX, [129] which only led them into frequent error… The mediaeval church exposition did not make any essential advance upon the patristic… If you know one of these expositors, you know them all. The most that they have to offer us is an echo of the earlier writers. By their dependence on the letter of the Vulgate, and consequently indirectly of the LXX, they only too frequently light upon a false track and miss the meaning… The mediaeval synagogue exposition is wanting in the recognition of Christ, and consequently in the fundamental condition required for a spiritual understanding of the Psalms. But as we are indebted to the Jews for the transmission of the codex of the Old Testament, we also owe the transmission of the knowledge of Hebrew to them. So far the Jewish interpreters give us what the Christian interpreters of the same period were not able to tender… It is only since about 900 A.D., when indirectly under Syro-Arabian influence, the study of grammar began to be cultivated among the Jews that the exposition and the application of Scripture began to be disentangled… Their knowledge of the Hebrew gives all these expositors a marked advantage over their Christian contemporaries, but the veil of Moses over their eyes is thicker in proportion to the conscious opposition to Christianity… When a new light dawned upon the church through the Reformation – the light of a grammatical and deeply spiritual understanding of Scripture – then the rose-garden of the Psalter began to breathe forth its perfumes… Since the time of the Reformation the exegetical functions of psalm-exposition have been more clearly apprehended and more happily discharged than ever before… After 1750, the exposition of Scripture lost that spiritual and ecclesiastical character which had gained strength in the seventeenth century, but had also gradually become torpid…”[130]

This rather long quote calls attention to a quandary the expositor of Psalms faces. The expositor seeks to decipher the intent of the author in light of the historical, cultural milieu in which it was written. Our Lord Jesus and the New Testament writers, however, used the Psalms, as a means of authenticating the gospel message. We, of course, agree that the interpretation of the Psalms given in the New Testament is the correct one, but can the interpreter use this same methodology in interpreting the rest of the Psalms? If so, this inevitably leads to an allegorical interpretation of the Old Testament. If we seek to understand the Psalms as the Jews before Christ saw them, we will not necessarily come to the same conclusions as the New Testament writers. Since my object in this series is to seek to decipher what the Old Testament readers could legitimately conclude on the basis of Revelation, I will seek to interpret the Psalms from a more “objective” perspective than might be found justifiable from a New Testament interpretation.

I make no claim that my study of Psalms is exhaustive on this important subject. If, in your study of the Old Testament in general, and the Psalms in particular, you find evidence that suggests the opposite of what I am saying, I hope you will call it to my attention.[131] I will not endeavor to address each Psalm, only those that seem relevant to an eternal hope.

“For in death there is no remembrance of thee; in Sheol who can give thee praise?”[132] No reference to life after death so far in the Psalms; this verse seems to suggest the opposite.

“For thou dost not give me up to Sheol, or let thy godly one see the Pit. Thou dost show me the path of life; in thy presence there is fulness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.”[133] Many have seen in this Psalm of David a beautiful reference to life after death, and have thus concluded that it offers the Old Testament saint an eternal hope. Let’s take a closer look at what David says: David does not use the Hebrew word olam[134] in verse 11. The word used by David (nesah) means, “eminence, perpetuity, strength, victory, enduring, everlastingness, endurance in time, perpetual, continual, unto the end, ever.” From this definition we see that the word can mean something different from eternal life in the Presence of God. Not only so, but Charles says, “There is nothing that necessarily relates to a future life in Psalm 16, which expresses the fears and hopes not of the individual but of the community.”[135] If the Psalmist expresses hope in eternal life, as this and other Psalms may suggest, we have to conclude that God did not support such a hope with a promise.

“As for me, I shall behold Thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness.”[136] The RSV translates this: “As for me, I shall behold thy face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with beholding thy form.” The NAB translates it: “I am just– let me see your face; when I awake, let me be filled with your presence.” The word for “awake” (qis) means, “awake from seep, awaken from the dead (used four times).” Daniel uses qis in his famous statement on the resurrection of the dead.[137] Many Jews understood this verse to mean that “the awaking” here mentioned means nothing more than the awaking next morning, when the psalmist will join afresh in the temple worship.

“He asked life of Thee, Thou gavest it him; even length of days for ever (olam) and ever (ad). His glory is great through Thy salvation; honour and majesty dost Thou lay upon him. For Thou makest him most blessed for ever (ad); Thou makest him glad with joy in Thy presence.”[138] This verse, like Psalm 17:15, may express an eternal hope, depending on what the author means by words like olam and ad. We will note, as we move through this material, that if God granted the Psalmist an eternal hope, you find no record of His promise or the conditions that have to be met in obtaining it.


After His resurrection, Jesus walked with some people from Jerusalem to Emmaus, and en route “… beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”[139] What exactly did Jesus say? If He came to provide a propitiation in order that God might “be just and justifier of him that believeth,”[140] why didn’t anyone up to this point understand that the Old Testament taught this? Why didn’t those who were closest to Jesus during His public ministry understand His mission?

We will continue in the Psalms in the next issue.

Grateful for His promises,

September, 2004

In this issue I will review, in part, what we covered in Part 5, and elaborate further on the pragmatic implications of understanding what the Bible teaches on eternal hope.

Eternal Hope
Part 10


It seems to me that most people believe in something after death. All religions have this belief in common. Only a minority believes that when a person dies he ceases to exist. The Hebrews who lived as slaves in Egypt were exposed to a belief in an afterlife – as attested by the pyramids. With or without a promise of eternal life to the individual in the Old Testament, I think the average Hebrew believed in an afterlife, even though it may have consisted in nothing more than an eternity in Sheol. A belief in an afterlife however is very different from an eternal hope.

Eternal Hope

Hebrews 11:1 says: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hope defines the object of our faith; we express faith in the direction of our hope. In the Greek, faith and believe are the same word; faith is the noun and believe is the verb. Faith/believe is commitment without knowing. Therefore we can define faith as “risk taking.” When we say that we have faith in the airline getting us to our destination, or we have faith in the surgeon’s ability to perform a successful operation, we are saying that we take a risk in flying or having surgery.

Thus, hope defines the object of our faith. We say we hope the operation will be successful, or we hope we will arrive safely at our destination. We define hope in terms of what we perceive to be gain. We never say that we hope the operation will be a failure, or we hope we lose our money invested in the stock market; we always say the opposite. In summary, we take our risks in the direction of what we consider to be gain.

Dead Faith

Biblical faith is always active, never passive. James talks about a passive faith: “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”[141] Faith without taking the risk of obedience is “dead faith.” James says, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”[142] We demonstrate our hope in the promises of God by being His obedient servants; the risk of faith is found in obedience.

We can have a strong conviction in an afterlife without being the obedient servants of God. Thus, we can say that we hope in eternal life, but because we take no risks in the direction of that hope, we cannot, in a biblical sense, say that we hope in the fulfillment of God’s promises. The existence of hope always requires risks. James says such people have a “dead faith:” “faith without works is dead.”[143]

Obedience and Agreement

We can easily deceive ourselves on this issue: We can confuse obedience with agreement. Many appear to obey God in the sense that they agree with His expectations; they are moral people. You cannot say that you submit to God unless you have confronted the issue of finding yourself not wanting to do His will, voted against yourself, and did it anyway. For example, the only recorded instance of Jesus meeting God’s will and not wanting to do it is the agony through which He went in the Garden of Gethsemane. “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.”[144] We learn obedience when we, like Jesus, know God’s will and don’t want to pay the price of doing it, but because of our eternal hope, nevertheless obey Him.

Many in the body of Christ live lives of selective obedience, that is, they “obey” when they agree. If they don’t wish to obey, they call the biblical command “cultural,” or they say, “I know God prohibits divorce, but He wants me to be happy, and besides, He will forgive me.” Such people may believe in life after death, and even say they have an eternal hope, but James says that their faith is dead.

Hebrews 11 gives an account of Old Testament saints who had an active faith, taking risks in the direction of their hope: “And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: 33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: 36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”[145] So also, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego demonstrated an eternal hope when they chose the fiery furnace: “If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us, He will deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and out of thy hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”[146]

So we see then, that many of God’s people in the Old Testament had an eternal hope, demonstrated by the risks they took in choosing death rather than disobedience – in spite of the Old Testament Scripture never recording the promise of an eternal hope given by God to an individual. Conversely, many today claim the promises of an eternal hope offered in the New Testament, while refusing to take the risks inherent in a life of obedience. Such people deceive themselves. They think they have an eternal hope when in reality they have nothing more than a belief in an afterlife.

Fear and Love

Often people argue that fear and love are mutually exclusive, when in reality, they are mutually inclusive. Fear is not the enemy of love; fear is the enemy of security. My love identifies my hope, and hope and fear are the head and tail of the same coin. If you love your house, then you will fear losing it when threatened by a fire. If you love your wife, you will fear losing her if you discover that she has cancer. When I am in the city with my grandson, and he gets away from me and into harm’s way, and I say “stop,” I want him to fear my word. If he merely respects it, taking it under advisement, the traffic will kill him.

God is like a warm fire on a cold night. You want to draw as close as you can, but you cannot get too close without getting hurt. You may wish to argue that you respect the fire, but I suggest that if you act presumptuously, you will end in regret.

Fear and Eternal Hope

The Apostle Paul teaches, “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”[147] No one can be certain that they will receive the object of their hope. For this reason, they logically fear that they may not obtain what they hope for, as certainly as they fear when what they love is threatened.

Because we have an eternal hope and not merely a belief in an afterlife, what are the consequences of not taking risks (faith) in the direction of that hope? If there is no eternal accountability for temporal behavior, the risks evaporate. We are left with no difference between the person who believes in an afterlife and the person who has an eternal hope.

Scripture gives repeated warnings lest we deceive ourselves in this regard.[148] Note how John Calvin articulates eternal accountability: “What we give to our brethren in the exercise of charity is a deposit with the Lord, who, as a faithful depositary, will ultimately restore it with abundant interest. Are our duties, then, of such value with God that they are as a kind of treasure placed in his hand? Who can hesitate to say so when Scripture so often and so plainly attests it? But if any one would leap from the mere kindness of God to the merit of works (i.e., a works righteousness)[149], his error will receive no support from these passages. For all you can properly infer from them is the inclination on the part of God to treat us with indulgence. For, in order to animate us in well-doing, he allows no act of obedience, however unworthy of his eye, to pass unrewarded.”[150]

Charles Hodge says, in essence, the same thing: “Although Protestants deny the merit of good works, and teach that salvation is entirely gratuitous, that the remission of sins, adoption into the family of God, and the gift of the Holy Spirit are granted to the believer, as well as admission into heaven, solely on the ground of the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ; they nevertheless teach that God does reward his people for their works. Having graciously promised for Christ’s sake to overlook the imperfection of their best services, they have the assurance founded on that promise that he who gives a disciple even a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, shall in no wise lose his reward. The Scriptures also teach that the happiness or blessedness of the believers in a future life will be greater or less in proportion to their devotion to the service of Christ in this life. Those who love little, do little; and those who do little enjoy less. What a man sows that shall he also reap. As the rewards of heaven are given on the ground of merits of Christ, and as He has a right to do what He will with his own, there would be no injustice were the thief saved on the cross as highly exalted as the Apostle Paul. But the general drift of Scripture is in favor of the doctrine that a man shall reap what he sows; that God will reward every one according to, although not on account of his works.”[151] Hodge seems to suggest that the formula for rewards is: “faithfulness to opportunity,” as indicated by the thief on the cross.


All people everywhere, regardless of their religion, race, or culture, view authority the same way. If they perceive that the cost of obedience is greater than disobedience, they will disobey, and vice versa. This is a universal axiom, true for all time.

If a believer convinces himself, regardless of Scriptural evidence, that he does not face eternal accountability for temporal behavior, then for him the Ten Commandments become the ten suggestions. In denying eternal accountability, he also denies that he has an eternal hope, practices a dead faith, and merely believes in an afterlife.

Yours for the glory of God,


November, 2004

Eternal Hope
Part 11


God faults the nation of Israel for many things, but I know of no place where He charges them with a lack of faith. God never required the nation to believe. For this reason, OT Israel becomes a better illustration of grace than God’s commitment to the individual in the NT, in as much as the individual must meet the condition of believing or having faith. He placed no such condition on the nation.

Continued reflections in Psalms

“The LORD knoweth the days of them that are wholehearted; and their inheritance shall be for ever (olam)… Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore (olam).[152] For the LORD loveth justice, and forsaketh not His saints; they are preserved for ever (olam); but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off. The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever (ad).”[153] This illustrates the dilemma facing the interpreter; he knows that words like olam and ad don’t necessarily carry the same connotation they do with our English equivalent. As noted in Part 6 of this series, no general word exits for time in Hebrew, nor for ideas like past, present, future, and eternity.

“LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; let me know how short-lived I am.” Then David prays: “Look away from me, that I may take comfort, before I go hence, and be no more.” [154] In this Psalm David expresses no eternal hope.[155] From this we see that although David may have meant “eternal”[156] in the sense we use that word, from this Psalm we learn that he in fact lacked an eternal hope. Possibly, in Psa. 37:18 his hope was in an inheritance for his children, but not for himself. In II Sam. 7 God tells David that he will always have a descendent sitting on the Throne of Israel.

“And as for me, Thou upholdest me because of mine integrity, and settest me before Thy face for ever (olam).”[157] This and Psalm 37 face the same problem when it comes to interpreting olam.

“Truly no man can ransom himself, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of his life is costly, and can never suffice, that he should continue to live on for ever (nesah), and never see the Pit.” “No man can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him – For too costly is the redemption of their soul, and must be let alone for ever (olam) – That he should still live always (nesah), that he should not see the pit.”[158] Although “the sons of Korah” use the phrase “no man can ransom himself,” they make a distinction between the just and unjust: “Like sheep they are appointed for the nether-world (Sheol); death shall be their shepherd; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their form shall be for the nether-world (Sheol) to wear away, that there be no habitation for it. But God will redeem my soul from the power of the nether-world (Sheol); for He shall receive me.”[159] Since v. 14 represents Sheol as a place where the wicked are punished, it seems to suggest that the righteous do not go there; God “ransoms” them from Sheol’s power. In this Psalm God reserves Sheol for the wicked in contradistinction to His “receiving” the righteous. This seems to teach an eternal difference between the just and unjust, but a difference determined by the merit of man rather than the grace of God.

Psalm 73 marks the end of David’s Psalms and the beginning of those composed by Asaph. Asaph calls attention to the fact that the righteous seem to suffer and the unrighteous prosper…” Until I entered into the sanctuary of God, and considered their end. Surely Thou settest them in slippery places; Thou hurlest them down to utter ruin.” Then he says: “Thou wilt guide me with Thy counsel, and afterward receive me with glory (kabod).”[160] The word for “glory” (kabod), when referencing God calls attention to His presence, usually in the Tabernacle or Temple.
Three thoughts on this:
1 – Frequently in the Psalms the writer calls attention to the fact that because God is righteous, He will bring the unjust down in ruin and lift up those that trust in Him. If the Psalmist has in mind the temporal, this would call into question the message of Job.[161] But in truth, I gain the impression that the Psalmist does in fact have in mind the temporal – at least most of the time.
2 – When Asaph says, “Thou dost guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory,” I am not sure if “afterward” refers to eternity or after guiding with His counsel. With my NT worldview, it is easy for me to conclude the former.
3 – The Psalmist contrasts the fate of the righteous and wicked: “My flesh and my heart faileth; but God is the rock of my heart and my portion for ever (olam). For, lo, they that go far from Thee shall perish; Thou dost destroy all them that go astray from Thee.”[162] Thus, the righteous are received to “glory,” while the wicked “perish.” This seems to suggest an eternal hope. Does olam in v. 26 suggest that the soul lives on after the body is destroyed?

Throughout Psalm 88 the author, Herman the Ezrahite, writes in terms of this life being all there is; it is as though he is rejecting the notion of the resurrection – as illustrated in: “Wilt Thou work wonders for the dead? Or shall the shades arise and give Thee thanks? Shall Thy mercy be declared in the grave? or Thy faithfulness in destruction? Shall Thy wonders be known in the dark? And Thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?”[163] The word “shades” means, “’the dead inhabitants of the netherworld’… appears exclusively in poetic passages… ‘ghosts (of) Sheol.’”[164] Thus, the Psalmist may believe that the spirit lives beyond the grave, but he offers no hope of it being a happy destiny.

“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.”[165] This passage does not teach eternal life for God’s people, but by inference one may conclude that since God considers the death of His saints precious, it must mean that they go from this life to live with Him.

“If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there; if I make my bed in the nether-world, behold, Thou art there.”[166] The Psalmist recognizes the possibility of a person going to heaven, but does not say that is where people go. Heaven, in this verse, is a different location from Sheol, although we cannot be certain that it is the presence of God. Finally, when the Psalmist says, “Who redeemeth Thy life from the pit; who encompasseth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies,”[167] it probably has the same meaning as Jonah 2:7, when God saved His prophet from the belly of a fish.

Reflections on Proverbs

“I was set up from everlasting (olam), from the beginning, or ever the earth was.”[168] “When the whirlwind passeth, the wicked is no more; but the righteous is an everlasting (olam) foundation.”[169] “The lip of truth shall be established for ever (ad); but a lying tongue is but for a moment.”[170] “A false witness shall perish; but the man that obeyeth shall speak unchallenged (nesah).”[171] “For riches are not for ever (olam); and doth the crown endure unto all generations?”[172] “The king that faithfully judgeth the poor, his throne shall be established for ever (ad).”[173] These are the only verses I can find dealing with “eternity/forever/everlasting/eternal/ancient/always.” Even the context makes it difficult, if not impossible, to determine if any of them refer to an eternal hope.

“The nether-world (Sheol) and Destruction (Abaddon) are before the LORD; how much more then the hearts of the children of men!!”[174] “Abaddon,” the same in Hebrew (abaddon) means, “to die, pass away, destruction. Probably the main theological question about this root is whether it refers merely to physical death or also to eternal punishment. It is not an easy question… One’s conclusions will doubtless be influenced by general considerations.”[175] In other words, your theological bias will be a determining factor in coming to a conclusion. Revelation 9:11 uses “Abaddon” as a name of the devil, called in Greek “Apollyon.”

“The path of life goeth upward for the wise, that he may depart from the nether-world (Sheol) beneath.”[176] The Hebrew word for “depart” (soor) is the general word for “to turn aside, depart.” RSV translates “avoid” and the NAS “keep away.” The wise man can follow the path of life, avoiding Sheol in the process.

Twice Proverbs tells us that Sheol can never be full/satisfied: “The nether-world (Sheol) and Destruction are never satiated; so the eyes of man are never satiated.”[177] “There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four that say not: ‘Enough’: The grave (Sheol); and the barren womb; the earth that is not satisfied with water; and the fire that saith not: ‘Enough.’”[178] Interestingly, Proverbs never says that heaven is not full/satisfied. In Proverbs people go to Sheol, but I can find no reference to people going to heaven, with the possible exception of Proverbs 15:24.


Proverbs, as the word suggests, is a book of non-obligatory truths. Something may be true without obligating a person to apply it. For example, Solomon says, “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”[179] Although this is true, it does not mean that the rich should not rule the poor or that a person should not borrow. God expects His people to be instructed by them, but their application has to remain an individual matter. Not all truth is law.

Starting with the poetic or devotional literature there emerges the beginning of an eternal hope, based not on the promise of God’s future Propitiation, but rather on the deeds of man. We see this hope, not offered by God, but declared by the saints. The authors legitimately had this hope because they wrote by inspiration of God. However, nowhere in this literature does God make a promise of eternal life to any individual or group of individuals.

Grateful for His promise of eternal life,


March, 2005

Eternal Hope
Part 12


Note the contrast between the Hebrews at Kadesh Barnea and Muslim terrorists today: Numbers 14:2 records, “And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron; and the whole congregation said unto them: ‘Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would we had died in this wilderness!” Hardly a day passes without reading of a Muslim who destroys himself in a suicide attack against an opponent. Why does the Muslim freely destroy himself while the Hebrew longs to return to slavery rather than face his enemy? I suggest the difference resides in eternal hope. Islam assures the martyr perpetual bliss in eternity while God never offered the hope of eternal life to His people.

G.K. Chesterton notes, “The moment we care for anything deeply, the world – that is, all the other miscellaneous interests – becomes our enemy. Christians showed it when they talked of keeping one’s self ‘unspotted from the world;’ but lovers talk of it just as much when they talk of the ‘world well lost’… Thus Mr. Kipling… knows England as an intelligent English gentleman knows Venice. He has been to England a great many times; he has stopped there for long visits. But he does not belong to it, or to any place; and the proof of it is this, that he thinks of England as a place. The moment we are rooted in a place, the place vanishes. We live like a tree with the whole strength of the universe.”[180]

I suggest that this describes the eternal hope of the follower of Christ: he is “rooted” in heaven. It matters not how much of this world’s good God has lavished upon him, only one longing occupies him; Christ is his life! “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”[181]

Reflections on Ecclesiastes

Solomon’s Ecclesiastes seems to give conflicting evidence regarding the hope of life after death: “He hath made every thing beautiful in its time; also He hath set the world (olam) in their heart, yet so that man cannot find out the work that God hath done from the beginning even to the end.”[182] I am not sure why the JPS and KJV translate olam “world;” the NAS and RSV use “eternity.”

“Even though he should live a thousand years twice told, yet enjoy no good — do not all go to the one place?”[183] “For all this I laid to my heart, even to make clear all this: that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God; whether it be love or hatred, man knoweth it not; all is before them. All things come alike to all; there is one event to the righteous and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth and to him that sacrificeth not; as is the good, so is the sinner, and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath. This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that there is one event unto all; yea also, the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead. For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope; for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they shall die; but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. As well their love, as their hatred and their envy, is long ago perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.”[184] Solomon acknowledges the depravity of man, but seems to suggest the absence of hope beyond the grave. Does Solomon suggest that the fate of the individual is tied to the nation? “One fate comes to all, to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil…” Without an eternal hope, corporate accountability destroys individual accountability – if the individual in question can hide his crime.

“In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider; God hath made even the one as well as the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.”[185] This passage follows Psalm 88:10 in seeming to reject the idea of a resurrection.

“Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and terrors shall be in the way; and the almond-tree shall blossom, and the grasshopper shall drag itself along, and the caperberry shall fail; because man goeth to his long (olam) home, and the mourners go about the streets… And the dust returneth to the earth as it was, and the spirit returneth unto God who gave it… For God shall bring every work into the judgment concerning every hidden thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil.”[186] Contrary to what he has said earlier, Solomon seems to suggest that the soul of a man does not perish. The “spirit returns to God” and “judgment” takes place after death.

Reflections on Song of Solomon

Like the book of Esther, Song of Solomon makes no reference to God. I can find nothing pertaining to life after death, judgment, sin, accountability, or godly hope. Read literally, it is a love poem between a man and woman. Those who find it edifying usually give it an allegorical interpretation – e.g., the relationship of the believer with Christ. In either case, I can find no reference to an eternal hope.

From here we move to the prophetic books of the Old Testament.

Reflections on Isaiah

The Israelites believe in a material recreation of the world. Much of their understanding comes from Isaiah. He prophesizes a time of universal peace: “And He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”[187] This is a time when “the wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, saith the LORD.”[188] The prophets do not make clear how this eschatological hope unfolds, but from Isaiah you receive a clear picture of the temporal and eternal blending together.

Note another passage referring to this eschatological hope of a material recreation: “And He will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering that is cast over all peoples, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death for ever (nesah); and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the reproach of His people will He take away from off all the earth; for the LORD hath spoken it. And it shall be said in that day: ‘Lo, this is our God, for whom we waited, that He might save us; this is the LORD, for whom we waited, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.’”[189] It is as though the temporal blends with the eternal; the distinction between the two vanishes.

“The sun shall be no more thy light by day, neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee; but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting (olam) light, and thy God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down, Neither shall thy moon withdraw itself; for the LORD shall be thine everlasting (olam) light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended. Thy people also shall be all righteous, they shall inherit the land for ever; the branch of My planting, the work of My hands, wherein I glory. The smallest shall become a thousand, and the least a mighty nation; I the LORD will hasten it in its time.”[190] This hope, offered to the nation of Israel, effortlessly combines the temporal and eternal in an eschatological promise.

In preparation for this time of renewal, God promises Judgment as a means of purging. This theme of judgment plays a prominent role in Isaiah. The people may perish, but God’s eternal commitment to the nation remains inviolable.

If God had not elected a nation such as Israel, the depravity of man is such that man would blot out any and all manifestations of God. As it was, Israel constantly played the whore with God, and only God’s persistent commitment to Israel kept her from totally stripping from her presence any and all manifestations of God. As He says: “O LORD our God, other lords beside Thee have had dominion over us; but by Thee only do we make mention of Thy name. The dead live not, the shades[191] rise not; to that end hast Thou punished and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish. Thou hast gotten Thee honour with the nations, O LORD, yea, exceeding great honour with the nations; Thou art honoured unto the farthest ends of the earth.”[192] What we know of God comes through the revelation of Himself to His elect nation, Israel.

In this context, Isaiah seems to speak of the resurrection: “Thy dead shall live, my dead bodies shall arise – awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust – for Thy dew is as the dew of light, and the earth shall bring to life the shades.”[193] These are the bodies of Yahweh’s people. Note that Isaiah talks of the resurrection of the just, but makes no mention of the resurrection of the unjust. Evidently these righteous await the resurrection in Sheol.

Isaiah prophesizes: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting (ad) Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of [his] government and peace [there shall be] no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever (olam). The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”[194] Notice how the JPS translates this: “For a child is born unto us, a son is given unto us; and the government is upon his shoulder; and his name is called ‘The Mighty God is planning grace; the Eternal Father, a peaceable ruler’[195] – In token of abundant authority and of peace without limit upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it through justice and through righteousness from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts doth perform this.” Although the two translations differ in regard to ascribing deity to the Son, both have in common that God will create a kingdom, with His anointed sitting on the throne of David.


As far as I can tell, the Old Testament saints never cried out to God that they could not properly relate to Him because of the inadequacy of the Law. I know of no place in the Old Testament where the author says his sins or the sins of others blocks the path to God – until we come to the sin of King David and his confession in Psalm 51. Also, Paul quotes David in Romans 4:7-8: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.”[196] Elsewhere in the Old Testament, the sinner may be alienated from God, but such a person expresses no desire for a relationship with God. King David appears to be an anomaly in the Old Testament; he is the first to suggest that “a broken spirit and contrite heart”[197] can bridge the gap between the sinner and God.

Eagerly awaiting His return,

May, 2005

Eternal Hope
Part 13


One of the more difficult tasks facing the interpreter is determining whether God has given the promise to the nation or to the individual. For example, in a passage discussed earlier in this series God says, “The LORD, the LORD, God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; keeping mercy unto the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin; and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and unto the fourth generation.”[198] It seems to me that this must apply to the nation in that the generation that sins does not experience God’s justice, but rather “the third and fourth generations.”

God speaking though the Psalmist says, “Who forgiveth all thine iniquity; who healeth all thy diseases.”[199] If you apply this promise to the individual rather than the nation, you will conclude that God promises you will never contract a disease, and if you do, then God has failed in keeping His promise. When God promises, “I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for Mine own sake; and thy sins I will not remember,”[200] if we were Old Testament Jews, could we apply this individually? On what basis do you make the determination? Obviously, as a New Testament saint, you can claim a similar promise, for He said, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,”[201] keeping in mind that you cannot assume that He will “not remember you sins.” In the New Testament, God speaks to the individual rather than the nation.

During the Monarchy, God made a promise to Hezekiah: “Go, and say to Hezekiah: Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father: I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears; behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years.”[202] Obviously, you cannot appropriate this promise, gaining assurance that you will live an additional fifteen years. Note, however, that God made this promise to an individual rather that the nation as a whole.

Look at another promise God made: “Bring ye the whole tithe into the store-house, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall be more than sufficiency.”[203] Here, you can easily run into trouble. Promises such as this were given to the nation, not to the individual. God did not guarantee that every individual who tithed would prosper temporally, and yet pastors frequently preach on this verse when emphasizing the importance of generosity.

Note a national promise frequently applied to the United States: “If My people, upon whom My name is called, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”[204] God did not commit Himself to any nation other than Israel. Just as Old Testament Egypt had no right to claim this for herself, so also no country in existence today can make this claim, with the exception of Israel; only the nation of Israel can claim to be “My people, upon whom My name is called.”

During the days of the Old Testament, the individual follower of God could not claim for himself national promises, nor can His followers today. You must determine the promises God gave the nation of Israel vis-à-vis the individual, and then determine if you can legitimately claim the individual promise for yourself.

Continued reflections on Isaiah

In part 5 of this series I noted that if Hezekiah had an eternal hope he did not act like it when Isaiah came informing him that God was planning on taking his life. The book of Isaiah covers the same material. In Hezekiah’s poem of praise for the added fifteen years, he says: “In the noontide of my days I shall go, even to the gates of the nether-world (Sheol); I am deprived of the residue of my years. I said: I shall not see the LORD, even the LORD in the land of the living; I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world. My habitation is plucked up and carried away from me as a shepherd’s tent; I have rolled up like a weaver my life; He will cut me off from the thrum (loom); from day even to night wilt Thou make an end of me… For the nether-world (Sheol) cannot praise Thee, death cannot celebrate Thee; they that go down into the pit cannot hope for Thy truth (grace).”[205] If he is going to praise and worship God, it must be in the temporal life God gives. These do not sound like the words of a man who has an eternal hope – and Hezekiah was considered a good king.

I have no idea how the Old Testament Jews understood Isaiah 53, or how they saw it fit into the mosaic of God’s program for Israel. Some argue that the Jews saw this passage as part of the Suffering Servant motif in the latter part of Isaiah. To interpret verses such as, “But he was wounded because of our transgressions, he was crushed because of our iniquities: the chastisement of our welfare was upon him, and with his stripes we were healed. All we like sheep did go astray, we turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath made to light on him the iniquity of us all… Therefore will I divide him a portion among the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the mighty; because he bared his soul unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors,”[206] as referencing Messiah paying the penalty for the individual’s sin, implies a promise of eternal life to the individual. As already noted, an eternal commitment to a sinful nation does not require the substitutionary death of Christ. Since the New Testament applies this to Christ, we conclude that either those in the Old Testament simply did not understand this passage, or God gave to the Old Testament people, but never recorded in Scripture, the promise of eternal life.

Beginning with Isaiah God offers to the individual the promise of a personal relationship as evidenced by passages such as: “For thus saith the High and Lofty One that inhabiteth eternity (ad), whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth; for the spirit that enwrappeth itself is from Me, and the souls which I have made.”[207] Earlier, King David said that God would not reject the contrite and humble spirit,[208] but now God Himself says it. The passage comes short of offering eternal hope, but at least God takes note of the individual, offering him temporal hope.

Isaiah 61-62 gives Israel a beautiful hope, but it is temporal rather than eternal in nature. “And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall renew the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and aliens shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers. But ye shall be named the priests of the LORD, men shall call you the ministers of our God; ye shall eat the wealth of the nations, and in their splendour shall ye revel… For as the earth bringeth forth her growth, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord GOD will cause victory and glory to spring forth before all the nations.[209] Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken, neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate; but thou shalt be called, My delight is in her, and thy land, Espoused; for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be espoused. For as a young man espouseth a virgin, so shall thy sons espouse thee; and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee… Behold, the LORD hath proclaimed unto the end of the earth: say ye to the daughter of Zion: ‘Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him.’”[210] In the last issue we noted how Isaiah blends the temporal and eternal, but in these chapters, God makes no reference to the eternal. In chapter 65 He says, “I am creating a new heaven and a new earth,”[211] but He does not blend the temporal and eternal in a material recreation. “The time cometh, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and shall see My glory… And they shall bring all your brethren out of all the nations for an offering unto the LORD… to My holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the LORD, as the children of Israel bring their offering in a clean vessel into the house of the LORD. And of them also will I take for the priests and for the Levites, saith the LORD. For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before Me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.”[212]


In part 2 of this series we briefly looked at repentance in the Old Testament, noting that in the Pentateuch God never calls upon people to repent, nor does He say that the nation must repent of her sin in order to maintain His covenant with her. Abraham may intercede on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah,[213] Moses on behalf of the nation,[214] and Job on behalf of his friends,[215] but God’s representatives never turn to man urging repentance.

Repentance, however, is a sine qua non for securing individual forgiveness as we move through the post-Pentateuch literature. Inner brokenness and contrition must be followed by the outward acts of turning away from evil[216] and turning toward righteousness.[217] Ritual acts, such as washings and sacrifices, have never, by themselves, found acceptance with God. “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto Me? saith the LORD; I am full of the burnt-offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he-goats. When ye come to appear before Me, who hath required this at your hand, to trample My courts? Bring no more vain oblations; it is an offering of abomination unto Me; new moon and sabbath, the holding of convocations – I cannot endure iniquity along with the solemn assembly.”[218]

So also today; baptism, church attendance, seeking His forgiveness, admitting that you are wrong – none of these can function as a substitute for inner brokenness and contrition followed by outward acts of turning away from evil and turning toward righteousness.

His servant… your friend,

July, 2005

Eternal Hope
Part 14


In part 4 of this series we called attention to the fact that, although we have no way of knowing who did and who did not have an eternal hope during the Old Testament times, the author of Hebrews says that the Patriarchs (recorded in Genesis) had an eternal hope: “For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.”[219] I am not sure, however, how clearly the Patriarchs saw this hope. For example, Paul says, “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.”[220] Most agree that Paul defines the Gospel as: “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”[221] Can we conclude that God revealed the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ to Abraham when Jesus said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.”[222] What exactly did Abraham “see?” If we conclude from these verses that God revealed the propitious death of Christ to Abraham, then why didn’t Satan try to stop Christ from going to the cross?

Returning to Hebrews, the author says, “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”[223] Does this “promise” pertain to Christ? It probably does, but if so, what did the Old Testament saints understand about this promise? When God said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel,’”[224] did they see God sending His Son to destroy the work of Satan, and that in the process the Son would be “bruised?” We, in New Testament times, may look back at such promises and conclude that God spoke of His redemption in Christ, but this is different from saying that the Old Testament saints understood it this way. If you conclude that the above promises were clearly understood by the Old Testament people of God as His provision for their eternal hope, then why didn’t anyone in the New Testament prior to Christ’s resurrection, including His disciples, understand His mission?

Twice during the Exodus, when the people were thirsty, God provided water through a rock. The first time, God instructed Moses to strike the rock;[225] the second time He told Moses to speak to the rock.[226] Commenting on this, Paul says, “And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.”[227] Evidently, the Rock was Christ, and He was to be smitten only once. Did Moses understand this? I cannot be sure, but I doubt it.

When Hebrews says the Patriarchs looked for a “heavenly country,” did they have in mind the land given to them and their progeny? I do not know. I am dubious however that God gave to those in the Old Testament a clear, eternal hope, when nothing in the record indicates that God revealed such a hope to them.

Reflections on Jeremiah

When God created Israel at Sinai, the people’s hopes were tied to the nation; when the nation prospered because of Providence, the people prospered, so also the opposite. Most of the pre-Exile prophets preach judgment for the nation, with little or no hope offered to the individual. During Jeremiah’s ministry, when the sun began to set on Israel, God initiated a shift from an emphasis on the nation to the individual. “In those days they shall say no more: ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ But every one shall die for his own iniquity; every man that eateth the sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.”[228] There was the time when God tied the fate of the individual with that of the nation. But now things change; each individual is responsible for his own relationship with God. Jeremiah lays the foundation for an emphasis on the individual as the nation slips into captivity; when God affirms his inviolable commitment to the nation, He also emphasizes the importance of the individual. While Isaiah blended the temporal and eternal in affirming God’s commitment to the nation, he did not place the emphasis on the individual that we see in Jeremiah and those prophets that followed him.

It is in this context that we read of the New Covenant: “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; forasmuch as they broke My covenant, although I was a lord over them, saith the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the LORD, I will put My law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people; and they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying: ‘Know the LORD’; for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more.”[229] Note the following:
1 – Jeremiah taught the depravity of the individual. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceeding weak – who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.”[230] Man can no more reform his own life than a leopard can change his spots.[231]
2 – The New Covenant will provide the individual with a new and supernatural ability to obey the Law, and thus the nation will be free of the unrighteousness that had earlier brought God’s retribution.
3 – This New Covenant will include both Judah (preparing to enter her exile to Babylon) and Israel (the ten northern tribes disbursed and seemingly lost through the Assyrian Captivity).

In Jeremiah, God continues to affirm His inviolable commitment to Israel: “Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever (olam) and ever (olam).”[232] Eight times Jeremiah uses the word “repent,” and each time it refers to God as illustrated by: “If ye will still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull you down, and I will plant you, and not pluck you up; for I repent Me of the evil that I have done unto you.”[233] Twice God says the people refused to repent.[234] If I counted correctly “heaven” appears 24 times in this book, and none of them use “heaven” as the place where people go. I could not find the word “Sheol” in Jeremiah.

Reflections on Ezekiel

Ezekiel picks up where Jeremiah left off. As already noted in our study of Job, although God promises blessing on the righteous and retribution on the sinner, care must be taken in making application. From the perspective of those having an eternal hope, “the law of the harvest” can easily be applied: application may happen in the temporal, but will for sure happen in the eternal. In the Old Testament, where hope in life after death is at best oblique, application of “the law of the harvest” is a bit more difficult. God tells Ezekiel, “Son of man, when a land sinneth against Me by trespassing grievously, and I stretch out My hand upon it, and break the staff of the bread thereof, and send famine upon it, and cut off from it man and beast; 14 though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD.”[235]

In Ezekiel 37:1-14 God’s prophet receives a vision in which a valley of dry bones comes to life. God says it is “the whole House of Israel” and that they will come out of their graves and inhabit the land. Read literally, this means the lost House of Israel could anticipate a time when they would be resurrected from the dead to inhabit the Promised Land – a resurrection, not to join God in heaven, but rather to join their people in a reconstructed nation. Would this physical resurrection mean that these people would never again die, or did the people of Israel read it to mean that after a period of time these people would again die?


Earlier in Israel’s history, when God found fault with the nation, all the people partook of the retribution. Often, a later generation suffers the effects of their father’s sins. Now God promises that men like Noah, Daniel, and Job will be delivered because of their own righteousness, even though their children will not be spared; God judges each person individually. In Ezekiel deliverance vs. retribution is temporal, and he makes no effort to reconcile this with the teaching of the Book of Job. In Ezekiel, however, God clearly deals with the individual and not just the nation. The individual has worth independent of the corporate whole: “All souls are Mine.”[236]

As noted when looking at Isaiah, the Exile and post-Exile prophets call attention to Messiah governing a future Israel, characterized by righteousness, justice, and purity. At that time His rule will extend over all the nations of the earth. The objective of judgment is to purge Israel and prepare the way for the Messianic kingdom. Unlike the pre-Exile prophets, the post-Exilic prophets no longer emphasize doom and judgment, but rather a material recreation and with it the blessing of God. “And it shall come to pass in the end of days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established as the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many peoples shall go and say: ‘Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”[237]

Ezekiel teaches that after the establishment of the Messianic kingdom, a confederation under Gog, from the land Magog, will rise in rebellion.[238] The exact place of this rebellion in the scheme of eschatology has generated a great deal of debate among Christians. John, in his Apocalypse, places it at the end of the millennium: “And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.”[239]

Therefore, anticipating His early return,

September, 2005

Eternal Hope
Part 15


God grants assurance to the nation that He will not revoke His commitment to them. From Exodus forward, I know of no place where God makes that commitment to an individual, with the possible exception of people like Jeremiah (“Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee; I have appointed thee a prophet unto the nations”).[240] Elijah, caught up to heaven in a fiery chariot, may be another exception.

God promised David, who committed adultery and murder, “Thy house and thy kingdom shall be made sure for ever (olam) before thee; thy throne shall be established for ever (olam).”[241] Even though Moses struck the rock, God said of him, “And there hath not arisen a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face.”[242] Both men stand as conundrums: They are the only people, of which I am aware, of whom God charged them with willful sin, and still maintained a relationship with them. With all the others, such as Jeremiah, Elijah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, God never charged them with a crime. God, if He comments at all, calls them righteous. For example Daniel says: “Then said Daniel unto the king: ‘O king, live for ever! My God hath sent His angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not hurt me; forasmuch as before Him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.’”[243]

But God does hold the individual accountable, sending judgment when he does wrong, as illustrated by the following: “Then a spirit lifted me up, and brought me unto the east gate of the LORD’S house, which looketh eastward; and behold at the door of the gate five and twenty men; and I saw in the midst of them Jaazaniah the son of Azzur, and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, princes of the people. And He said unto me: ‘Son of man, these are the men that devise iniquity, and that give wicked counsel in this city; that say: The time is not near to build houses! this city is the caldron, and we are the flesh. Therefore prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man’… And it came to pass, when I prophesied, that Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died. Then fell I down upon my face, and cried with a loud voice, and said: ‘Ah Lord GOD! wilt Thou make a full end of the remnant of Israel?’”[244]

Reflections on Daniel

Daniel makes reference to life after death: “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting (olam) life, and some to reproaches and everlasting (olam) abhorrence. And they that are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn the many to righteousness as the stars for ever (olam) and ever (ad).”[245] He also references the “eternal” nature of God’s kingdom in passages such as when he interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and says, “And in the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never (alam)[246] be destroyed; nor shall the kingdom be left to another people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, but it shall stand for ever (alam).”[247] Again, when Daniel interprets his own dream, he says, “But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever (alam), even for ever (alam) and ever (alam).”[248] Finally, when God gives Daniel the sequence of events surrounding the coming of Messiah, He says, “Seventy weeks are decreed upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sin, and to forgive iniquity, and to bring in everlasting (olam) righteousness, and to seal vision and prophet, and to anoint the most holy place.”[249]

Daniel makes reference to his own sin,[250] when reminding God that the seventy years of exile prophesied by Jeremiah had come to an end, but apart from this, he doesn’t mention man’s alienation from God and the need for God to provide a way whereby man can spend eternity with Him. The “eternal hope” found in this book deals with the nation rather than the individual.

Later, when Daniel confesses the sins of his people, reminding God that the promised 70 years of captivity had come to a close, he says: “O LORD, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against Thee. To the Lord our God belong compassions and forgivenesses; for we have rebelled against Him; neither have we hearkened to the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets. Yea, all Israel have transgressed Thy law, and have turned aside, so as not to hearken to Thy voice; and so there hath been poured out upon us the curse and the oath that is written in the Law of Moses the servant of God; for we have sinned against Him.”[251] Daniel identifies with the nation, saying that he rebelled and sinned against God, when in fact he had not. The nation sinned and Daniel was part of the nation. Daniel’s fate was inextricably tied to that of Israel. When God answers through His messenger Gabriel, He says: “At the beginning of thy supplications a word went forth, and I am come to declare it; for thou art greatly beloved; therefore look into the word, and understand the vision. Seventy weeks are decreed upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sin, and to forgive iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal vision and prophet, and to anoint the most holy place.”[252] After assuring Daniel that he is “greatly beloved,” God promises at a future time that He will “finish the transgression, and to make an end of sin, and to forgive iniquity.” What God will do regarding the nation has nothing to do with whether Daniel is righteous or sinful. Nothing in this prophecy, or any other in Daniel, suggests that Messiah must atone for the nation.

At the end of the book the angel says: “But go thou thy way till the end be; and thou shalt rest, and shalt stand up to thy lot, at the end of the days.”[253] Some interpret “stand up to thy lot” to mean “rise again for your allotted portion” (cf. NAS), in which case we have a clear promise of eternal life offered by God. As far as I can tell, this constitutes the sum of what Daniel says about the eternal hope of God’s people. Daniel does introduce the certainty that all men will be resurrected and stand before God in judgment. Thus, it seems that although the hope of the righteous Hebrew is tied to the Messianic hope of the nation, Daniel now promises that the unrighteous Hebrew will not partake of that hope. “It is most noteworthy that this doctrine of the resurrection of the wicked is attested only three or, at most, four times in Jewish literature prior to the Christian era… Although this book is the forerunner and herald of most subsequent apocalyptic developments, its own outlook is in the main confined to this world. Its hopes are directed, not to the after-world, with its retributions for the individual, but to the setting up of a world-empire of Israel, which is to displace the heathen, to an eternal Messianic kingdom on earth. Accordingly, it extends neither promise nor threatening to the individual as such, but only to those individuals who have in an extraordinary degree helped or hindered the advent of this kingdom… Thus the claims of the individual are only very partially recognized in the eschatological system of Daniel.”[254] Daniel contains no specific reference to Messiah or His ministry, with the exception of His being inferred in Daniel’s dream of the Seventy Weeks.[255]

Reflections on the Minor Prophets

Hosea – a contemporary of Amos, Isaiah, and Micah, he calls attention to an important component in a person’s walk with God, first articulated by King David: “For I desire mercy, and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God rather than burnt-offerings.”[256] Isaiah emphasizes the same thing: God listens to a person’s prayers with a stethoscope.[257]

Israel, like the wife of Hosea, is a whore. Nevertheless, God commits Himself to her irrevocably: “And I will betroth thee unto Me for ever (olam); yea, I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in justice, and in lovingkindness, and in compassion.”[258] As far as I can tell, this is the only reference to the eternal. “After two days will He revive us, on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His presence,”[259] refers to the nation, and this transformation may be similar to what Ezekiel says in his parable of the dry bones: “And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, and caused you to come up out of your graves, O My people.”[260]

Joel – God promises a glorious future to Judah: “But Judah shall be inhabited for ever (olam), and Jerusalem from generation to generation.”[261] As far as I can tell, this is the only reference to the eternal in Joel. In Acts 2 Peter quotes the prophet Joel: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.”[262] Joel applies this prophecy to the nation: “And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and there is none else; and My people shall never be ashamed.”[263]

Amos – a book of judgment, nevertheless gives a word of hope to Israel: “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof, and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old; That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the nations, upon whom My name is called, saith the LORD that doeth this. Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. And I will turn the captivity of My people Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be plucked up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God.”[264] Like so often in the Old Testament, when God commits Himself to Israel, He blends the temporal with the eternal. I find no other reference to the eternal in Amos, with the exception of God saying that “His anger did tear perpetually, and he kept his wrath for ever (nesah).”[265]


In the OT if a nation such as Edom acts unjustly toward Israel, as depicted in Obadiah, God condemns the offending nation. Rahab the harlot betrayed her country into the hands of Israel in order to save her life, and because of this God records her in the “Hall of Fame”[266] and includes her in the genealogy of Jesus Christ.[267] I know of no instance where God rebukes Israel or holds her accountable for injustices committed against other nations. When Great Britain (and other nations as well) perceived itself as God’s chosen, inheriting the mantle of Israel, it encouraged the imperialism of the nineteenth century.

Grateful that “He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him,”


November, 2005

Eternal Hope
Part 16


God calls upon people to believe, as first evidenced in Abraham.[268] Although the Lord never promises that those who violate the Law have any chance for a relationship with Him, you must consider David’s insight that God will not reject a broken spirit and contrite heart.[269] As far as I can discover, the first time God takes the initiative to forgive willful sin is when in the gospels Jesus forgives the sinner.[270] As noted earlier, Moses and David are the only two examples, of which I am aware, in which God gives reason to be assured that one who commits willful sin can still maintain a relationship with Him.

Continuing Reflections on the Minor Prophets

Obadiah – In this short book of 21 verses, the prophet rebukes Edom for her sin against Israel, promising: “For the violence done to thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever (olam).”[271] This is the only possible reference to the eternal that I can find.

Jonah – God’s prophet sent to warn Nineveh of Judgment, makes no mention of the eternal destiny of people. In seeking to understand the message of Jonah a Jewish commentary notes: “If Jonah is to be rid of the notion that divine compassion expresses weakness of mind and softness of heart, he must experience the Lord’s heavy hand directed against himself. He must realize that the God who shows clemency to malefactors makes no concession to His prophet – who pretends to know better than his God how the world should be conducted… Only when the proponent of strict justice realizes his own humanity can he understand the fundamental dependence of mortals on human and divine mercy.”[272] Note that Dr. Simon does not know how to reconcile God’s justice with His mercy; he does not see the solution to this dilemma in God’s wrath against His Son so that He can be both just and merciful.

God’s commitment to the nation of Israel does not necessitate the death of Christ, for the institution does not need propitiation. Dr. Simon assumes God’s commitment to individuals in the OT – i.e., God promises the individual eternal salvation – and thus he faces the dilemma of how God can be both “just and the Justifier.”[273]

Micah – a contemporary of Isaiah, Micah prophesied in Judah. He is quoted in the Gospels: “But thou, Beth-lehem Ephrathah, which art little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall one come forth unto Me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from ancient days (olam).”[274] Here you have Messiah with a possible eternal past, but no reference to the future. Micah uses olam in reference to the temporal, as illustrated by: “The women of My people ye cast out from their pleasant houses; from their young children ye take away My glory for ever (olam).”[275] Thus, it is hard to determine what God has in mind when He promises: “For let all the peoples walk each one in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever (olam)[276] and ever (ad).”[277] It seems certain that He has in mind His Messianic Kingdom when He promises: “In that day, saith the LORD, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven away, and her that I have afflicted; 7 And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a mighty nation; and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from thenceforth even for ever (olam).”[278] So too, He seems to have in mind the nation of Israel when He says, “Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth the iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not His anger for ever (ad), because He delighteth in mercy. He will again have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. Thou wilt show faithfulness to Jacob, mercy to Abraham, as Thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.”[279] I can find no promise of eternal salvation made to the individual.

Nahum – Jonah brought to Nineveh a message of repentance; Nahum prophesied God’s Judgment on Nineveh. I could find no reference to the eternal in this short book.

Habakkuk – God raised up Babylon to bring God’s judgment upon Judah. Habakkuk acknowledges Judah’s sin, but complains that Babylon is worse. How can a just God use Babylon to bring judgment on God’s people? Habakkuk ends in a note of hope, but not a hope rooted in the eternal.

Zephaniah – The prophet calls upon the people to return to the Lord. God looks for “righteousness and humility,”[280] the two key ingredients necessary to please Him. “In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against Me; for then I will take away out of the midst of thee thy proudly exulting ones, and thou shalt no more be haughty in My holy mountain. And I will leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall take refuge in the name of the LORD. The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies, neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth; for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.”[281] God promises that the restored nation shall be righteous because He will remove all proud, unrighteous people. The nation is righteous, not because God imputes righteousness to the individual, but because He removes unrighteous people. Apart from this blending of the temporal and eternal in the restored nation, I find no reference to the eternal, and no individual, eternal hope.

Haggai – a post-exilic prophet, called by God to motivate the people to rebuild the temple. In rebuking the nation for their neglect, Haggai makes a direct connection between obedience and temporal prosperity: “Ye have sown much, and brought in little, ye eat, but ye have not enough, ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink, ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages for a bag with holes.”[282] This sorry condition can only be rectified by obeying God and rebuilding His Temple. Mysteriously, he closes his prophecy with the promise that sometime in the future God will bring judgment to “the heavens and the earth.”[283]

Zechariah – Many Messianic passages fill the pages of this prophecy. He clearly has in mind the fulfillment of God’s promise to the nation when he says: “For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, but the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when He fighteth in the day of battle. And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleft in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, so that there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south… And the LORD shall be King over all the earth; in that day shall the LORD be One, and His name one… And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations that came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.”[284] Zechariah doesn’t discuss the eternal dimension of this kingdom, nor does he offer an eternal hope to the individual.

By way of application, God says, “And it came to pass that, as He called, and they would not hear; so they shall call, and I will not hear, said the LORD of hosts.”[285] When God speaks to us and we neglect His word, He says he will ignore us when we find the need to call for Him. You cannot expect God to come to you in the hour of your need if you fail to respond properly to Him when He speaks.

Malachi – The last of the prophets to the restored remnant after the Babylonian Captivity, Malachi contrasts the love of God with the sins of the people, and warns of the coming Day of the Lord: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.”[286] I could find no reference to an eternal hope offered to the individual, nor could I find an individual expressing an eternal hope.


Faith in a future life plays so important a part in our religion that we are surprised to find it appearing with so little explicitness in the religious thoughts of the Old Testament saints. When we ask why this lack of emphasis on the afterlife exists in the Old Testament, our answer will reflect our understanding of the purpose of the Bible. Our answer cannot be based on the supposition that the ancients did not think of it: death and immortality occupied a prominent and engrossing place in the minds of other nations, such as the Egyptians.

Davidson argues, “In the present day we are more inclined to conclude that the methods pursued by revelation were simple, and, if we can say so, natural; that is, that its great object was to enable men in each age practically to live unto God, and that at all times it gave them light sufficient for this; but that on other subjects it left them very much with the ideas which they had.”[287] It may be that God left the Old Testament saints with their own ideas of eternity, shaped by their culture, much like He leaves the New Testament saints to conclude for themselves how the Sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man blend.

Genesis records God’s dealing with individuals, not the nation of Israel. Yet, in this first book of the Bible, God records no eternal hope on the part of His people, with the possible exception of Enoch.

I prefer to believe that God’s purpose in revealing Himself, first to individuals, then to Israel, and finally to the world, was to demonstrate the futility and stupidity of rebelling against Him. As already noted, God’s commitment to Israel arguably demonstrates His grace more clearly than any other method. His purpose, therefore, resides not so much in our best interest, but rather His own; through creation and revelation He glorifies Himself.

This will close the first major section of this study: exploring the presence of an eternal hope in the Old Testament literature. Next, we will look at the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha. The former was written between the closing of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament. We are less certain regarding when the Pseudepigrapha was written; much of it paralleled the writings of the New Testament, and some of it may have followed. I hope it will prove to be as interesting a study for you as it was for me.

Grateful for our eternal hope,

January, 2006

Dear Co-laborer,

Eternal Hope
Part 17


Man’s quest for immortality appears opaquely in the Old Testament. For example, we read in 2Samuel 18:18: “Now Absalom in his life-time had taken and reared up for himself the pillar, which is in the king’s dale; for he said: ‘I have no son to keep my name in remembrance’; and he called the pillar after his own name; and it is called Absalom’s monument unto this day.” Evidently, Absalom reached for immortality via this pillar. It may be that the levirate[288] marriage functioned in the same capacity: Deuteronomy 25:5-10 sets forth the procedure by which the brother of the deceased is obligated to perpetuate the name of his brother, “that his name may not be blotted out in Israel.”

James reminds us in James 4:14: “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” If a man understands that his life is short, and if he does not have a strong eternal hope, he will seek to immortalize himself here on earth –through great deeds or possibly via some kind of memorial in his name. Solomon said, “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). The word “world” (olam in Hebrew), means “eternity.” Man has an inner voice telling him that if he doesn’t live forever, he ought to. The skeptic can argue that it is cultural, and seek to drum it out of his life, but that inner voice will not be quieted. Thus, men with sons and grandsons long to perpetuate the family name. Kings and leaders of industry seek to establish their dynasties. Even those who profess faith in Christ, and who ought to know better, find themselves preoccupied with their legacies. The only thing that will quiet that inner voice is an eternal hope. Because the follower of Christ hopes in the promises of God, he does not seek to create or build anything; his sole preoccupation is being the obedient follower of Christ. Why invest his energies in the temporal when God offers him immortality, which is not only infinitely better, but also where God wants him to direct it?

The Apocrypha

The word Apocrypha[289] originally meant “esoteric, hidden, concealed,” and pertained to literature meant to be understood only by the initiated and capable of being understood by no others. Later, the term came to connote “spurious.” Many of the Patristics used the term with this negative connotation. The Christian Bible is not a work of literature the understanding of which is limited to the initiated or select few.

The Apocrypha came to be known as a collection of religious writings written mostly during the years between the close of the Old Testament canon (Malachi) and the beginning of the New Testament. A list of the books in the order in which they occur in many Bibles: 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, The Rest of Esther, The wisdom of Solomon, Ecclessiasticus (also called Sirach), Baruch (with the Epistle of Jeremiah), The Song of the Three Holy Children, The History of Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, The Prayer of Manasses, and 1 & 2 Maccabees. “Uncertain as may be the dates of individual books, few, if any, can be thrown farther back than the beginning of the third century B.C. The latest, the 2nd Book of Esdras, is probably not later than 30 B.C…”[290]

We find an absence of the prophetic element in the Apocrypha; no one speaks because the word of the Lord came to him. “…the rhetorical narrative of the Exodus in Wisd. xvi-xix indicates the existence of a traditional, half-legendary history side by side with the canonical. It would seem, indeed, as if the life of Moses had appeared with many different embellishments. The form in which that life appears in Josephus, the facts mentioned in St. Stephen’s speech and not found in the Pentateuch, the allusions to Jannes and Jambres (2 Tim. Iii, 8), to the disputes between Michael and the devil (Jude 9), to the ‘rock that followed” the Israelites (1Cor x, 4), all bear testimony to the wide-spread popularity of this semi-apocryphal history.”[291]

The Church Fathers (Patristics) differed among themselves regarding what to do with the Apocrypha. For example, Irenaeus argued that they had no place in The Christian canon, while Clement of Alexandria recognized 2 Esdras as fully canonical. In the eastern and western churches the books of the Apocrypha formed an integral part of the canon. The Reformers included the Apocrypha in their translations of Scripture, but considered them non-canonical. By a national synod held at Jamnia in 90 A.D., the Old Testament canon was, for all practical purposes, closed. Probably the fact that the Apocrypha is absent from the Hebrew canon influenced the Reformers in their decision.[292]

In this study, I will look at the Apocrypha in the order used by Charles.[293]

Reflections on the Historical Books – 1 Esdras though 3 Maccabees

1 Esdras – The book covers the time from Josiah, King of Judah to the time of Ezra and his dealing with mixed marriages after the captivity. I found no reference to an eternal hope or the thought that Heaven is where people go after death.

1 Maccabees – deals with the High Priest Mattathias and his sons as they perpetually fight the descendents of Alexander the Great to keep their country free. Filled with intrigue, betrayal, and continuous war, the book records the hopeless struggle waged against Israel’s enemies. I can find no reference to the eternal or any hope of an afterlife.
2 Maccabees – This is not a sequel to 1 Maccabees, but rather a second book dealing with the Maccabean struggle. It chronicles the heroic deeds of Judas Maccabaeus, the death of Antiochus, and the two festivals of the Hanukka and Nicanor’s day. I have gleaned from the book the following pertaining to the after-life: We are told of the godly Eleazar refusing his eat swine, suggesting it was better to be “dispatched to Hades (Sheol) at once”[294] rather than disobey God.
Dealing with the martyrdom of the seven brothers, we find: “You accursed wretch, you dismiss us from this present life, but the King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life, because we have died for his laws.”[295] As one of the brothers surrendered his body he says, “I got these from Heaven, and because of his laws I disdain them, and from him I hope to get them back again.”[296] And when he was near death, he said, “One cannot but choose to die at the hands of men and to cherish the hope that God gives of being raised again by him. But for you there will be no resurrection to life!”[297] Their mother seems to reference the resurrection when she encourages her sons to be martyrs: “I do not know how you came into being in my womb. It was not I who gave you life and breath, nor I who set in order the elements within each of you. Therefore the Creator of the world, who shaped the beginning of man and devised the origin of all things, will in his mercy give life and breath back to you again, since you now forget yourselves for the sake of his laws.”[298] Again, the mother admonishes her sons: “Do not fear this butcher, but prove worthy of your brothers. Accept death, so that in God’s mercy I may get you back again with your brothers.”[299] Interestingly, each of the brothers, as they face death, testify that they are dying for their own sins. No thought is given to the idea that the righteous suffer unjustly, or in defense of the truth.

The author says of Judas Maccabees: “He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection. For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.”[300] In these short verses we find the justification for the Roman Church’s teaching that God’s people should pray for the dead, and that indulgences free souls from purgatory.

3 Maccabees – This book takes place in the reign of Ptolemy IV[301] in 217 B.C., and narrates the pagan kings attempt to enter the Temple in Jerusalem. Defeated, Ptolemy wreaks vengeance on the Jews of Alexandria, Egypt, by allowing drunken elephants to trample them to death in the Hippodrome. An angel visits the king; he repents, and becomes a patron of the Jews. I could find no reference to a Messianic hope, apocalyptic ideas, or life after death.

Reflections on Quasi-Historical Books Written with a Moral Purpose

Tobit – a book of 14 chapters deals with an exiled family from Israel living in Assyria. The plot line has his son Tobias going to another part of the realm – led by the angel Raphael – where he obtains his father’s inheritance and a wife (Sarah) from his kin.

Tobit 4:17 notes, “Pour out your bread and wine on the tomb of the just, and give not to sinners.” As seen in our study of the Old Testament, Sheol was, for both saints and sinners, the abode of the dead. Evidently the ancients believed that the living could assist the spirits of the dead, and I can find nothing in the Old Testament prohibiting this practice. Regarding their tithe, in Deuteronomy 26:14 people had to vow before God: “I have not deposited any of it with the dead.”

I found traces of the supernatural (even fantastic), but no mention of an eternal hope or resurrection from the dead.

Judith – contains 16 chapters dealing with the wrath of Nebuchadnezzar toward the nations along the Mediterranean Sea who did not respond to his call to help him with one of his wars. He sends Holofernes his general, offering mercy to those who acknowledge their wrong and confess Nebuchadnezzar as their god. Israel, of course, refuses, and the army of Holofernes is arrayed against her. Judith, a godly widow from Bethulia, deceives her way into the company of Holofernes, beguiles him with her beauty, and when unsuspecting, cuts off his head. The army panics and Israel slaughters them. Judith is a type of Deborah the Judge. I found one reference to hell: “Woe to the nations that rise up against my kindred: The Lord Almighty will take vengeance of them in the Day of Judgment. By putting fire and worms in their flesh, and they shall be weak and feel their pain forever.”[302] Charles dates this work about 50 BC.


All people are motivated by their hope; no other motivation can influence us like hope. Hope defines our sense of well being, how we perceive success, what constitutes security, as well as our expectations. We can allow it to move us in a course of action without taking time to evaluate its validity. The line between faith and greed is real but invisible. We can easily cross it without giving serious thought to what we are doing.

If a man makes himself truly accountable to a band of brothers “who watch for his soul as they that must give account,”[303] he will find them calling into question proposed courses of action that appear valid, simply because he is motivated by his hope. Objectivity from an outside source can bring moral clarity to decisions that otherwise appear ambiguous.

As people of God, we must constantly call into question the object of our hope to ensure that it does not slip from a legitimate to an illegitimate hope. Jesus prayed for His disciples, “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.”[304] Keeping guard of our hope is essential if we wish to remain in the world and not become part of it.

Yours for a legitimate hope,

March, 2006

Eternal Hope
Part 18


From the last half of the first century (BC) forward, an expectation of the imminent coming of Messiah finds expression in most of the Apocraphal writings. Although any answer to why this happened is conjecture, it seems most probable that the Jews read and followed the chronology of Daniel’s seventy weeks: “Seventy weeks are decreed upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sin, and to forgive iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal vision and prophet, and to anoint the most holy place. Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the word to restore and to build Jerusalem unto one anointed, a prince, shall be seven weeks; and for threescore and two weeks, it shall be built again, with broad place and moat, but in troublous times. And after the threescore and two weeks shall an anointed one be cut off, and be no more; and the people of a prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; but his end shall be with a flood; and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall make a firm covenant with many for one week; and for half of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the offering to cease; and upon the wing of detestable things shall be that which causeth appalment; and that until the extermination wholly determined be poured out upon that which causeth appalment.”[305] Daniel divides the seventy weeks of years into three sections: First, seven – equaling 49 years; Second, sixty-two – equaling 434 years; Third, one – equaling 7 years. During this last period “the wing of detestable things shall be that which causeth appalment.” Jesus tells us this takes place prior to His return,[306] and John talks about Daniel’s seventieth week in Revelation[307] where he refers to two three and a half year periods. Thus, although the Jews may not have known how to calculate exactly when the first two periods ended, they knew that they were living in the time of its fulfillment.

Reflections on the Wisdom Literature

Sirach – also called Ben-Sira’s Book of Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus – has 51 chapters. Fashioned after Proverbs it covers the full range of Wisdom Literature, seeking to address general questions of life. It was probably written sometime during 200 – 175 B.C. The author seems to follow the Psalms in viewing death as the end, not the beginning of eternal life. “Give, and take, and indulge yourself, because in Hades one cannot look for luxury… Every work decays and ceases to exist, and the one who made it will pass away with it.”[308] Although a person has no hope beyond the grave, he may be concerned about the perpetuation of his name: “He will find gladness and a crown of rejoicing, and will inherit an everlasting name.”[309]

“A gift is acceptable in the sight of every man living, and also from the dead withhold not kindness.”[310] As noted in Tobit 4:17, Old Testament believers thought that the living could assist the spirits of the dead (cf. also Deuteronomy 26:14).

“Who will sing praises to the Most High in Hades in place of the living who give thanks? From the dead, as from one who does not exist, thanksgiving has ceased; those who are alive and well sing the Lord’s praises.”[311] “The thought is that God’s delight is in those who live and can therefore praise Him, not in those who go down to Hades and are cut off from communion with Him; the teaching here coincides with the normal teaching of the O.T., that God’s interest in man is restricted to this world”[312] If God does not judge the sinner when he arrives in Sheol, then there can be no relationship between how a person behaves in this life and the consequences of that behavior in the future life.

“The days of a person’s life are numbered, but the days of Israel are without number. One who is wise among his people will inherit honor, and his name will live forever.”[313] “These verses give interesting expression to one ancient view of immortality. A man’s memory might live on in honor in the life of his people. The nation could be regarded as immortal. There is no hint of a survival of the personality of the individual (c. 2 Macc. 14:15).”[314]

“This is the Lord’s decree for all flesh; why then should you reject the will of the Most High? Whether life lasts for ten years or a hundred or a thousand, there are no questions asked in Hades.”[315] “Since in Sheol it will be found that the same fate has overtaken all men, it will be immaterial whether one man lived longer on earth than another; men will not quarrel about that.”[316] In essence, Solomon says the same thing: “Yea, though he live a thousand years twice told, and enjoy no good; do not all go to one place?”[317]

“Enoch pleased the Lord and was taken up, an example of repentance to all generations.”[318] Jewish commentary on this passage, combined with their commentary on Genesis 5:24, argued that Enoch in fact was not translated without dying. “In the Targum of Pseudo-Jonathan (on Genesis 5:24) he…is represented as a pious worshipper of the true God, who was translated to heaven and received the names and offices of metatron and ‘great scribe.’ This doubtless was made possible after controversy with Christians had ceased”[319] Note that Charles argues that When Christianity embraced the belief in the resurrection from the dead, the Jews, in reaction to Christianity, rejected the resurrection.

“May their bones send forth new life from where they lie, and may the names of those who have been honored live again in their children… May the bones of the Twelve Prophets send forth new life from where they lie, for they comforted the people of Jacob and delivered them with confident hope.”[320] “There is, of course, no reference to a resurrection here. The word means literally ‘to send out shoots’; here it has, no doubt, a metaphorical meaning such as, ‘May their memory flourish,’ or the like; but originally the idea of the bones ‘sprouting’ must be graves, which suggests the idea of causing something to grow. Among the Arabs one of the usual prayers for the dead was that Heaven might send rain upon their graves”[321]

He tells us of the inadequacy of sacrifices: “The Most High is not pleased with the offerings of the ungodly, nor for a multitude of sacrifices does he forgive sins.”[322] The sacrificial system was designed for those who keep the Law: “The one who keeps the law makes many offerings; one who heeds the commandments makes an offering of well-being.”[323]

The writer believes in the Law of the Harvest, but only in the temporal: “The sinner will not escape with plunder, and the patience of the godly will not be frustrated. He makes room for every act of mercy; everyone receives in accordance with his or her deeds.”[324]

Book of Wisdom – otherwise know as The Wisdom of Solomon. Although Jewish, the author was influenced by Greek philosophy. The first section deals with eschatology; “it would be difficult to find five other chapters in the OT Scriptures with so much departure from traditional views.”[325] Other sections in the book deal with “wisdom” and an historical retrospect of Israel in the Torah. The authorship of the book is unknown and was probably written after 50 B.C. The editor calls attention to “And I will bring clad in shining light those who have loved my holy name, and I will seat each on the throne of his honor”[326] as a cross reference for the eschatology found in the first section of this book.

Although he makes no mention of Messiah, the author does talk about what appears to be the Messianic kingdom: “Do not invite death by the error of your life, nor bring on destruction by the works of your hands; because God did not make death,
and he does not delight in the death of the living. For he created all things that they might exist, and the generative forces of the world are wholesome, and there is no destructive poison in them; and the dominion of Hades is not on earth. For righteousness is immortal.”[327]

The opinions here put into the mouth of the godless were probably borrowed from Ecclesiastes. Note the purposelessness and futility of life: “For they reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves, ‘Short and sorrowful is our life, and there is no remedy when a man comes to his end, and no one has been known to return from Hades. Because we were born by mere chance, and hereafter we shall be as though we had never been; because the breath in our nostrils is smoke, and reason is a spark kindled by the beating of our hearts. When it is extinguished, the body will turn to ashes, and the spirit will dissolve like empty air. Our name will be forgotten in time and no one will remember our works; our life will pass away like the traces of a cloud, and be scattered like mist that is chased by the rays of the sun and overcome by its heat. For our allotted time is the passing of a shadow, and there is no return from our death, because it is sealed up and no one turns back.”[328] The same sentiments are put into the mouth of the ungodly in 1 Enoch 102:6-8.

The injustices of this life are compensated by the hope of immortality: “For though in the sight of men they were punished, their hope is full of immortality. Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good, because God tested them and found them worthy of himself; like gold in the furnace he tried them, and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them. In the time of their visitation they will shine forth, and will run like sparks through the stubble. They will govern nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord will reign over them for ever.”[329] The writer seems to make a reference to the Enoch of Genesis 5:22-24: “There was one who pleased God and was loved by him, and while living among sinners he was taken up.”[330]

The author calls attention to an eternal hope, one of the many benefits found in having “wisdom:” “But the righteous live for ever, and their reward is with the Lord; the Most High takes care of them. Therefore they will receive a glorious crown and a beautiful diadem from the hand of the Lord, because with his right hand he will cover them, and with his arm he will shield them… Because of her I shall have immortality, and leave an everlasting remembrance to those who come after me.” [331]

As for the ungodly, they will die without hope, subject to pain, and aware of what they missed in being unrighteous: “The unrighteous will see, and will have contempt for them, but the Lord will laugh them to scorn. After this they will become dishonored corpses, and an outrage among the dead forever; because he will dash them speechless to the ground, and shake them from the foundations; they will be left utterly dry and barren, and they will suffer anguish, and the memory of them will perish…Then the righteous will stand with great confidence in the presence of those who have oppressed them and those who make light of their labors. When the unrighteous see them, they will be shaken with dreadful fear, and they will be amazed at the unexpected salvation of the righteous.”[332]

Grateful for our eternal hope,

July, 2006

Eternal Hope
Part 19


Charles notes that four of the books of the Apocrypha flow from Alexandrian Judaism. “The literary representatives of this phase of Judaism are the Book of Wisdom, the writings of Philo, the Book of the Secrets of Enoch, and 4 Maccabees. All these works are more or less leavened by Greek philosophy. But their writers, however saturated with Greek ideas, remain essentially Jews… The chief fundamental doctrines of Alexandrian Judaism as distinct from Palestinean, are three: (i) The eternity of matter, and its essentially evil nature. From this philosophical dogma it at once follows that there can be no resurrection of the flesh… (ii) In the next place, the doctrine of the soul’s pre-existence is taught, not, however, as it appears in the Platonic philosophy, but in such a way as to be consistent with monotheism… (iii) Souls enter immediately after death on their final award, whether of blessedness or torment.”[333] As we will note later in this series, the Secrets of Enoch is designated 2 Enoch in contradistinction to the older book of Enoch which is designated as 1 Enoch.

Reflection on “Additions to and Completions of the Canonical Books”

1 Baruch – Attributed to the secretary of Jeremiah, Whitehouse concludes that it was probably composed about 78 A.D.[334] “As will be shown in the sequel the tragic events of 597 B.C., which heralded the exile, constitute a thin historic drapery which invest the yet greater tragedy of the Jewish race in A.D. 70. It is now generally accepted by recent critics that Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar represent the persons of Vespasian and Titus… The influence of the book on ecclesiastical Christian literature has been far greater than upon the Jewish.”[335] The early Church Fathers assumed Baruch wrote the book during the time of Jeremiah the prophet. Messianic, apocalyptic, and eschatological ideas are conspicuously absent from the book.

This book of five chapters begins by calling on the exiles in Babylon to send money for an offering to the Temple in Jerusalem, praying for the King of Babylon – that peace may come to Israel. Then Baruch prays for the sins of the nation and finishes giving hope to Israel – much like Isaiah 40-66.

The last two chapters deal with the fulfillment of Israel’s hope. The author reminds the people, “It was not for destruction that you were sold to the nations, but you were handed over to your enemies because you angered God.”[336] God’s anger will not last indefinitely, “For he who brought these calamities upon you will deliver you from the hand of your enemies… My children, endure with patience the wrath that has come upon you from God. Your enemy has overtaken you, but you will soon see their destruction and will tread upon their necks… For he who brought these calamities upon you will bring you everlasting joy with your salvation… Wretched will be the cities which your children served as slaves; wretched will be the city which received your sons. For just as she rejoiced at your fall and was glad for your ruin, so she will be grieved at her own desolation. And I will take away her pride in her great population, and her insolence will be turned to grief. For fire will come upon her from the Everlasting for many days, and for a long time she will be inhabited by demons… Arise, O Jerusalem, stand upon the height and look toward the east, and see your children gathered from west and east, at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that God has remembered them. For they went forth from you on foot, led away by their enemies; but God will bring them back to you, carried in glory, as on a royal throne. For God has ordered that every high mountain and the everlasting hills be made low and the valleys filled up, to make level ground, so that Israel may walk safely in the glory of God. The woods and every fragrant tree have shaded Israel at God’s command. For God will lead Israel with joy, in the light of his glory, with the mercy and righteousness that come from him.”[337] I could find nothing in Baruch of an eternal hope.

Charles identifies two other books by Baruch, but places them in the Pseudepigrapha because they are apocalyptic in nature.

The Epistle of Jeremy – “It is nowhere stated in the body of the letter that Jeremiah wrote it.” One chapter of 73 verses, it is a polemic against idolatry of Babylon. “Not Babylon in its glory, but Babylon in its decay … as Alexander saw it, crumbling slowly away, yet still, in its ruined majesty, preserving enough of its ancient splendor to induce the conqueror of the world to choose it for his future capital and seat of empire.” Jeremy says, ‘So when ye be come unto Babylon, ye shall remain there many years, and for a long season, even for seven generations: and after that I will bring you out peaceably from thence’ (v. 3). Seven generations, allowing forty years to the generation according to OT reckoning, would cover 280 years. If we count from the exile of Jechonias (597 B.C.), this brings us to the year 317 B.C., or counting (as the author may have done) from 586 B.C., the year of the final Captivity, we arrive at 306 B.C., some thirty years after the arrival of Alexander in Babylon.”[338] If Ball is correct, the letter was written about 306 B.C.

I can find no reference to the eternal or an eternal hope in the letter. “Whether it be evil that one doeth unto them, or good, they are not able to recompense it.”[339] This verse refers to the idol’s inability to hold people accountable for their deeds.

Prayer of Manasses – A short penitential Psalm written in Greek, it divides into three parts: vv. 1-7 – An invocation of the Deity, vv. 8-10 – a confession of sin, vv. 11-15 – an entreaty for forgiveness. Evidently the writer draws from the story of the Old Testament King from Judah, Manasses: “Wherefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. And when he was in distress, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. And he prayed unto Him; and He was entreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD He was God… Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and his prayer unto his God, and the words of the seers that spoke to him in the name of the LORD, the God of Israel, behold, they are written among the acts of the kings of Israel. His prayer also, and how God was entreated of him, and all his sin and his transgression, and the places wherein he built high places, and set up the Asherim and the graven images, before he humbled himself; behold, they are written in the history of the seers.”[340]

“The record of his idolatry and of his persecution of the servants of Jehovah had stamped his name with infamy in the annals of Judah. But side by side with his wickedness were commemorated the unusual length of the king’s reign and the quiet peacefulness of his end… Henceforth his name was associated by Jewish tradition not only with the grossest acts of idolatry ever perpetrated by a king of Judah, but also with the most famous instance of Divine forgiveness towards a repentant sinner.”[341]

In Manasses’ prayer, he said, “Therefore thou, O Lord, God of the righteous, hast not appointed repentance for the righteous, for Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, who did not sin against thee, but thou hast appointed repentance for me, who am a sinner.” [342] Evidently, God appoints repentance for some and not for others. In this prayer I find no reference to an eternal hope.

Reflections on Additions to Daniel

The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Children – Sometimes known as the “First Addition” to the canonical Book of Daniel, it contains 68 verses divided into four parts: vv. 1-2 – introduction, vv. 3-22 – the prayer of Azariah, one of the ‘Three Children’ thrown into the fiery furnace, vv. 23-27 – the heating of the furnace and the salvation of the children by an angel of the Lord, vv. 28-68 – Song of Praise of the three children. Bennett places its composition in the first century, B.C.[343]

I found no reference to the eternal or an eternal hope.

Susanna – Consists of one chapter of 64 verses. “Two elders are made judges in a Jewish community. One evening they see a Jewess walking in her husband’s garden, and both become enamored of her. Next morning they detect each other near the garden, acknowledge to each other their passion, agree to accost the woman, and are repulsed with scorn. To protect themselves they must accuse the woman; they betake themselves to the synagogue of the city and issue a summons to Susanna. She appears with her household, and is ordered to be unveiled. The elders appear as witnesses before the assembled people. They aver that while they were walking in her husband’s garden, they detected the woman in company with a youth who escaped. Being arrested she refused to tell who her paramour was. The official standing of the elders leads the whole synagogue to believe the evidence and to condemn Susanna.
“On her way to execution, a youth (Daniel) questions the verdict, reopens the trial, and examines the two elders separately. The one says the crime took place under a mastick tree; the other says under a holm tree. The contradiction condemns both. The synagogue applauds the young man because he had proved them to be false witnesses. ‘And as the Law prescribes, they did unto them as they had wickedly devised against their sister.’ The elders are gagged, cast into a ravine, and destroyed by fire from heaven.
“The story of Susanna is a parable intended to illustrates the value and necessity of cross-examination of witnesses. It also seeks to vindicate the execution of false witnesses, although their victim may be delivered before his sentence was carried out. The story is a product of the Pharisaic controversy with the Sadducees in the later years of Alexander Jannaeus, c. 95-80 B.C.”[344] I found no reference to the eternal.

Bel and the Dragon – This book contains one chapter of 42 verses, giving us two stories of Daniel’s experience with the Dragon in Babylon: vv. 1-22 and vv. 23-42. In the first, Daniel contests the belief that the idol eats the food set before him. When challenged, Daniel has the king place the food before the idol and lock the temple. Surreptitiously, Daniel sprinkles ash on the floor. The next day they find the food gone, but the footprints lead to a secret door of the priests. Thus, the plot is exposed and the priests are killed. In the second story, because Daniel refuses to worship the idol, he is cast into a den of lions. Habakkuk, sent by God, feeds Daniel. When the king finds Daniel alive, he worships God and casts Daniel’s adversaries into the lion’s den.

“Bel and the Dragon forms the third of the Apocryphal Additions to Daniel… The other two Additions are the Song of the Three Children and Susanna. In the Greek and Latin texts the three Additions to Daniel constitute an integral part of the canonical Book of Daniel, and were recognized as such, and therefore are themselves canonical, by the Council of Trent… The meaning of the word ‘dragon’ denotes originally a large serpent.

“There is no allusion to any distinctively Jewish beliefs or practices. The law is not mentioned nor is the existence of a Divine revelation to man implied. The tract is silent as to sacrifice and temple, and even as regards priesthood.”[345] I could find no reference to the eternal or an eternal hope.


We need to explore one more book from the Apocrypha. Because we are out of space, we will look at it in the next issue.

In Christ,

November, 2006

Eternal Hope
Part 20

In this issue we will finish the Apocrypha and start our study of the Pseudepigrapha. The closer we move to the New Testament, the more prevalent the references to an eternal hope, and the more elaborate and detailed the understanding.

Reflection on The Additions to Esther

The Additions are six in number (A-F), totaling 107 verses. Although not found in the Hebrew text, they were inserted in the LXX[346] as of amplification of the book of Esther. Many differences exist between the ‘Additions’ and the book of Esther: God is mentioned in the former and not the latter, and the former is contradicted by the latter in several places, such as the king decreeing that the feast of Purim be kept by all the people and not just the Jews.

The six parts are as follows: A – A dream of Mordecai followed by his discovery of the plot two eunuchs have to kill the king. B – The letter of Artaxerxes exalting Haman. C – Mordecai’s prayer to God followed by Esther’s prayer. D – Esther appears before the king, and it looks as though he will not accept her. E. – Artaxerxes letter/decree countering the letter in section ‘B’. F – The interpretation of Mordecai’s dream. Gregg feels that we cannot date the work more closely than sometime between 125 B.C. and 90 A.D. [347]

“There is no mention of the Law or of a future life; the temple and the altar are only mentioned metaphorically (D 20). There is one reference to angels (D 13).”[348] I can find no mention of the eternal or an eternal hope.

Introduction to the Pseudepigrapha

The Pseudepigrapha (false writings) differ from the Apocrypha in two important ways: First, they are called “Pseudepigrapha” because the authors are all pseudonymous (false names), having borrowed the names of their books from famous Old Testament characters, ostensibly to give them added authority. Second, they are apocalyptic in nature, dealing with the end times. For the most part, the Apocrypha is not apocalyptic. In the New Testament, the only apocalyptic book is The Apocalypse of John, otherwise known as Revelation.

Apocalyptic writers were similar to the Old Testament prophets, in that both predicted the future and referenced the coming Messiah. They differed in that the prophets were primarily preachers of righteousness, using promised judgment as both a threat lest the people fail to repent, and as authentication of the prophet’s calling. For the apocalyptist, a call to righteousness was not his goal; he sought to spell out the events surrounding the time when God will bring to an end the world system.

R.H. Charles[349], in his introduction to the Pseudepigrapha, says, “The apocalyptic and legalistic sides of pre-Christian Pharisaism – starting originally from the same source – developed into Christianity and Talmudic Judaism.” During the inter-testamentary period, there was no distinction between these two strains of Judaism. “To all Jewish apocalyptic writers, the Law was of eternal validity, but they also clung fast to the validity of the prophetic teaching as the source of new truth ….Jewish scholars in the past, and to a considerable extent in the present, have denied to apocalyptic[350] its place in the faith of pre-Christian orthodox Judaism.” Charles notes that this denial appears irrational, in that both Judaism and Christianity have always been indebted to this prophetic/apocalyptic emphasis in Scripture.

When Christianity embraced this apocalyptic emphasis, as seen in various passages throughout the New Testament and especially in Revelation, Judaism abandoned the apocalyptic and majored on the Law. Charles argues that this was due to a Jewish desire to pull away from anything remotely Christian. “The Judaism that survived the destruction of the Temple, being almost wholly bereft of the apocalyptic wing which had passed over into Christianity, was not the same as the Judaism of an earlier date. Before A.D. 70 Judaism was a Church with many parties: after A.D. 70 the…party (emphasizing the Law) succeeded in suppressing its rivals, and so Judaism became in its essentials a Sect. In modern times Judaism is striving to recover the liberty of prophesying.

The writers of this apocalyptic literature, in order to gain acceptance with their readers, used well-known Old Testament men in the titles of their work – like The Assumption of Moses. “Jewish apocalyptic has been always pseudonymous from the third century B.C. onwards. This pseudonymity due to the absolute supremacy of the Law …left no room for prophecy. The prophetic spirit cannot openly declare itself in Judaism save by a breach with Talmudic Judaism…in Christianity, for the first century B.C. at any rate, apocalyptic ceased to be pseudonymous, and the seer came forward in his own person.”[351] At the same time (from the third century B.C.) that Jewish apocalyptic became pseudonymous, the Law came to be understood as the final, supreme revelation of God. “When once this idea of an inspired Law – adequate, infallible, and valid for all time – had become an accepted dogma of Judaism, as it became in the post-Exilic period, there was no longer room for independent representatives of God appearing before men, such as the pre-Exilic prophets…The prophet who issued a prophecy under his own name after the time of Ezra and Nehemiah could not expect a hearing unless his prophecy had the imprimatur of the Law. Nay more, according to Zech. xiii. 1-5…if a man declared himself to be a prophet his father and his mother were to put him to death…when once the prophetic Canon was closed, no book of a prophetic character could gain canonization as such.”[352] This Canon was considered closed by 200 B.C. “Moreover, all the great Jewish apocalypses which were written before A.D. 10, and which carried on the mystical and spiritual side of religion as opposed to [emphasizing the Law], Judaism dropped and banned after its breach with Christianity, just as it dropped and banned the Greek translation of the Old Testament.”[353] From this time forward, the Law became the determining characteristic of Judaism.

A clear link can be seen between apocalyptic, accountability, and the need for hope. During tribulation, people cling to their hope in God’s deliverance, and thus they turn to apocalyptic writers. If the people did not believe in a future judgment when God will apply the scales of justice to the affairs of man, they would despair and fall away. For this reason, apocalyptic literature has always been ethical in nature; future judgment ensures accountability for present behavior. “Prophecy has always been recognized as the greatest ethical force in the ancient world…The ethical element is the fundamental element in the chief books of this literature. What else but an inexpugnable sense of truth and duty to truth inspire the refusal of the three children in Daniel to fall down and worship the image that the king had set up?”[354] This link between apocalyptic, accountability, and the need for hope exists on the individual rather than the national level. In the Old Testament prophetic writings, God promises repeatedly a future restoration for the nation. In the Pseudepigrapha we find expressed an eternal hope for the individual who remains faithful in his walk with God.

God’s promise to Israel that He would send Messiah was linked to a material recreation of the world[355] where He would rule the nations in righteousness and justice. As Jewish eschatology evolved to a belief in a personal immortality and the resurrection of the body, especially in the first century BC, this world came to be regarded as unfit for the manifestation of His kingdom. It wasn’t until the coming of Christ and the teaching of the New Testament that the synthesis of these conflicting ideas was fused together.

Addressing the extra-biblical writings of the first century AD, Charles adds, “Thus the breach which had set in between the eschatologies of the individual and of the nation in the preceding century has been still further widened in this century, and the differences in the two eschatologies developed to their utmost limits. Either the nation has no blessed future at all, or at best only one of temporary duration. With this the individual has no essential concern. His interest centers round his own lot in the after-life. Thus Judaism has surrendered in despair the thought of the divine kingdom, which was the bequest of the Old Testament prophets.”[356]


Part of the reason the eternal appears muted in the Old Testament may be due to God’s emphasis on the nation rather than the individual. Old Testament Israel is a picture of God’s grace. God shows through Israel how He deals with His elect; He may chastise and send her into captivity, but He will never forsake her. Thus, the judgment pronounced upon the nation must, by its nature, be temporal.

Grateful for Redemption,

January, 2007

Eternal Hope
Part 21


In the last issue, we looked at how apocalyptic literature, having been born in a Jewish ethos, was rejected by its mother because of the prominent role an eternal hope played in Christendom. In this issue, we will explore more fully the dynamics that brought this to pass.

Evolution of Apocalyptic Literature and an Individual, Eternal Hope

Understanding the development of an eternal hope in the Old Testament requires a brief look at how God revealed Himself to His ancient people. Genesis 4: 26 tells us, “At that time men began to call upon the name of the LORD.” Exodus 6:2-3 says, “And God said to Moses, ‘I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them.’” In both passages, the word LORD is Yahweh. In whatever way you seek to reconcile the seeming discrepancy, you have to conclude that a continuity of revelation exited between Abraham and Moses.

To Moses God revealed Himself as One who is ethical and experiential rather than metaphysical and dogmatic, allowing for an unhampered growth of piety;[357] when Yahweh revealed Himself, He combined the Law with the promise of His perpetual presence. You find the opposite with Abraham: God did not give Abraham ethical rules, and He did not constantly abide with Abraham. God claims in Exodus 20:2, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage,” an assertion He makes repeatedly to the nation of Israel. Israel worships a God of national redemption. A God of justice and purity, He insists that Israel adhere to His expectations to the exclusion of all other allegiances. Israel exists for Yahweh, not vice versa.

“Through their living communion with God, the prophets made it known, in terms that could never be forgotten, that Yahweh pursued His own righteous purposes independently of Israel. Thus it was that Yahwism did not perish with the nation, and that true religion survived the destruction of the state. In the religion thus enfranchised from national limitations, the individual becomes the religious unit, and is brought into immediate communion with God. Thus the way is prepared for the coming of Christianity…In the parallel development initiated by Ezekiel, monotheism is a living and fruitful doctrine for Israel, but not for the nations…Such a false conception of Yahweh’s relation to the nations in due time reacted on Judaistic monotheism, and explains in large measure its subsequent barrenness.”[358]

Prior to the Babylonian Captivity, God revealed Himself primarily as One who is committed to the nation, not the individual. “…though an organic connection exists between its theology and the eschatology of the nation as a whole, this connection does not extend to the eschatology of the individual Israelite…Thus it is only in respect of the nation that Yahwism can be said to have possessed a definite eschatology till long after the return from Exile.”[359] Charles conjectures that because God committed Himself to the nation of Israel but offered no eschatological hope for the individual, the Hebrews filled in the gap by returning to their heathen belief in Ancestor Worship.

To substantiate his claim, Charles calls attention to Genesis 31:1, 35:4, and I Samuel 19:13, 16, which reference the teraphim, and which Charles says refers to the worship of ancestors. In Deuteronomy 26:14 God instructs His people to say, “I have not eaten of the tithe while I was mourning, or removed any of it while I was unclean, or offered any of it to the dead; I have obeyed the voice of the LORD my God, I have done according to all that thou hast commanded me.” God prohibiting His people offering to the dead may imply that such practices were common.

From the beginning, God revealed Himself as a God of righteousness, justice, and purity. In this, He differed from all other gods. “As a national God…He was popularly conceived as being concerned only with the well-being of the nation, and as possessing neither interest nor jurisdiction in the life of the individual beyond the grave.”[360] God evaluated the righteousness of the nation, however, by the behavior of the people. When Achan took of the spoils of Jericho God defeated the nation at the battle of Ai. “Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. And they have even taken some of the things under the ban and have both stolen and deceived. Moreover, they have also put them among their own things.”[361] It only took the sin of one man to bring God’s retribution upon the nation. Israel could never know how many people had to sin, nor how unrighteous their behavior had to be, before God would bring judgment on the nation. Note that God did not kill Achan at the battle of Ai, something He could have easily done. Instead, He killed other soldiers to drive home the point that He holds the nation accountable for the sin of one man.

God’s covenant with the nation assured Israel that no matter how severe His judgment, His commitment to her was inviolable. When God said to Abraham, “And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God,”[362] He introduced an eternal dimension into His relationship with the nation, but not with the individual. As the early parts of this series have demonstrated, I have found no place in the Old Testament where God offers an eternal covenant of grace to an individual. Because Achan sinned, he and his family were executed. God offered no hope of salvation for the individual who willfully sinned.[363]

As noted earlier, Moses and David are the only two individuals who maintained a relationship with God after God accused them of evil. Moses struck the rock instead of speaking to it, and God said he could not enter the Promised Land.[364] Nothing in the Old Testament indicates that Moses died with an eternal hope. David committed murder and adultery[365] and God forgave him; instead of executing David, God executed David’s son. When David says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise,”[366] he introduces a completely new idea. For the first time we learn that a flagrantly guilty person can be reconciled to God. Still, nothing in the Old Testament indicates that David died with an eternal hope. As far as I can tell, God never charged others whom Scripture indicates had a relationship with God, with violating His expectations.[367]

From the time Judah went into captivity (the ten northern tribes had disappeared after God dispersed them among the nations via the Assyrians) until the present, Israel ceased functioning as a nation ruled by God.[368] Thus, the emphasis naturally turned from the nation to the individual. By the time you reach the New Testament, you discover a fully developed individual eschatological hope evidenced by passages such as: “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,”[369] and “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.”[370]

Sheol, as the abode of the dead, naturally conflicts with an eternal hope. From wherever Israel obtained her belief in Sheol, people came to realize that individual hope required a distinction between the destinies of the righteous and unrighteous. Yahweh’s revelation of Himself as righteous, just, and pure, combined with conscience, forced this distinction.


One of the marks of God’s image that man bears is a sense of justice; each person ought to reap what he sows. This life empirically demonstrates that people do not necessarily experience justice: The righteous suffer and the ungodly prosper.[371] Eternal accountability answers this question of fairness. Justice may not happen in this life, but will for sure take place in the life to come. Because of the lack of emphasis on eternal hope in the Old Testament, this question of justice remained answered.

Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28-30 contain a series of promises pertaining to this question of justice – applied to the nation rather than the individual. Two important principles of biblical religion appear in these passages: free will and accountability expressed in rewards and punishments. Thus, God affirms His justice as He deals with national Israel, while leaving un-addressed how this indispensable principle of justice applies to the individual. Eternal accountability for the individual may be assumed in the Old Testament; only in the New Testament is it explicitly taught.

In the Old Testament man acknowledges his need to repent and asks for God’s forgiveness. By the time you reach the prophets, repentance with a heart for change becomes the sine qua non for securing God’s forgiveness; man must humble himself, acknowledge his sin, purpose to make restitution, and change – as seen in passages such as: “Wash you, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings from before Mine eyes, cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”[372] In the Old Testament, as well as the New, the writers considered it unthinkable that a person can receive forgiveness from God without remorse translated into deeds.

Committed to a life of brokenness and dependence,

May 2007

Dear Co-laborer,

Eternal Hope
Part 22

Before embarking on the next portion of our study, the Pseudepigrapha of the Intertestamentary Period, we will take two issues to look at the relationship between eternal hope and sanctification.


From the Church’s conception to the present, Christ’s followers have agreed on what Scripture teaches regarding justification,[373] while disagreeing on what constitutes a biblical view of sanctification.[374] For example, His people unite in believing that God saved Old Testament saints because of the propitious death of Christ.[375] However, how did God sanctify the Old Testament saint? Again, God’s people find general agreement regarding Romans 1-4 (devoted to the doctrine of justification), and have never been able to agree on Paul’s teaching in Romans 5-8 (devoted to the doctrine of sanctification).

In the next two issues, we shall look more closely at the relationship between sanctification and an eternal hope, for it seems to me that the imputed sanctification[376] of believer is not only past, but also future.

The Task of Sanctification

When God told Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, He did not say that if they ate, they would know good from evil. God does not want man trying to decide, and even though he tries, he cannot make the determination. In God’s command concerning the tree we see that God tested Adam and Eve with an issue that separates that which is intrinsically evil (disobedience) from that which is intrinsically good (obedience); Adam and Eve failed the test, sought autonomy, and committed an intrinsically evil act.

You may not be able to connect the command to some aspect of God’s nature, but trying to maintain a distinction between intrinsic evil and a violation of God’s command is fallacious; you must assume one defines the other. If you endeavor to separate His commands from that which is intrinsic to His nature, you will succumb to the temptation of seeking to define good and evil (as noted in the illustration of divorce discussed later in this issue).

When God redeems a man through the propitious blood of Christ, he places before that man a choice: does he wish freedom, or would he, like the freed slave in the Old Testament, want his Master to bore a hole in his ear and make him a slave forever? In essence, God places before each individual the same choice given Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden; you must decide that you would rather be His slave than have autonomy, irrespective of whether or not you believe that being completely autonomous is possible.

In saying this, I do not mean to suggest that in evangelism you are obligated to call attention to all of God’s commandments and tell the person he must become God’s slave, all before he receives Christ. Rather, when a person becomes a Christian, the Holy Spirit, in His time, will surface issues needing attention. At that point, the new believer confirms his conversion by yielding to God’s will.[377]

If God calls something sin, then whatever it is, it violates His will, and therefore violates His nature; you cannot separate His will from His character. (This, of course, does not include God expressing His will to an individual, such as His commanding Hosea to marry a whore.[378] We will address this more thoroughly later in this issue.) As you evaluate that which God calls sin, you must ask and answer at least three questions:

1 – Is the temptation to sin a test through which God insists that all people pass? Your biblical answer must be, “yes.”

2 – Should you consider the violation of God’s command a sin? Again, to be biblical, your answer must be “yes.”

3 – Is it sin because it violates His will, or because it violates His character (i.e., intrinsically evil)? You cannot be certain of your answer to this question; Scripture does not say.

At this point, you have two choices, equally valid: You can conclude that because God did not repeat certain commands present in one dispensation as He moved into another dispensation a distinction exists between God’s will and His character. (By way of example, God permitted divorce in the Old, but not the New Testament, and therefore divorce may violate His will, but not His character.) Alternatively, you can conclude that every command God has ever given reflects not only His will, but also His character. (For example, even though God proscribed eating shellfish in the Old, but not the New Testament, eating shellfish in this dispensation violates the essence of His character.)

Those believing the first choice rebut the second choice by noting that God solves the dilemma, in that, He records His will in each Testament, and that the believer is free to do whatever the Bible does not prohibit. Also, note that with conscience and reason you cannot affirm those commands found in one dispensation, but not the other. (For example, reason and conscience do not factor into people’s right to divorce.)

I suggest, however, that when you accept the premise that some commands reveal His will but not His character, you naturally use the template of reason and conscience on New Testament commands, and on that basis apply or ignore them. Those believers neglecting New Testament commands do so reasoning that they represent the culture of those times, and not our own culture.

If you disagree with my suggestion that God’s character and will cannot be separated, and choose to conclude that many sins violate God’s will but do not necessarily violate the essence of His nature, you must decide which sins fit which category. Properly categorizing biblical sins requires relying on conscience and reason. Scripture teaches that although conscience and reason are authoritative, they can never be absolute. Your making these determinations is dangerous; better to assume God’s will and His character are one.

You find a good illustration of this when looking at the Bible’s teaching on divorce. Note that divorce does not offend conscience and reason under many circumstances. Moses allowed what Jesus prohibited.[379] Malachi, centuries after Moses, said, “I hate divorce.”[380] If divorce does not violate the nature and character of God, why does He say that He hates it? If divorce violates the essence of God’s character, why did He permit it in the days of Moses?

Individual vs. General Commands

At this point, you may very well ask if this line of thinking applies to commands given to individuals. For example, in the Old Testament, God commanded Ezekiel to lie on his left side for over a year.[381] In the New Testament, Jesus instructed His disciple to catch a fish, extract the coin from its mouth, and pay the tax.[382]

As noted above, such commands do not reflect the essence of God, unless you wish to argue that the lesson derived from the command reflects his character, such as the need to pay tax to the government. Such commands do not reflect God’s nature, and He does not expect you to obey them. I cannot lead you to a specific Scriptural teaching to this effect, and I cannot prove that I am correct.

However, if you wish to be His obedient slave, I recommend that you obey all general commands in the New Testament and consider all Old Testament commands normative for that dispensation only. If you do not make a distinction between individual and general commands, you will conclude that just as God does not require that you lie on your side for over a year, so also He does not want you to obey those commandments in the New Testament not supported by conscience and reason.


Having laid the groundwork for the question of sanctification in the Old and New Testaments, we will more fully explore this issue in Eternal Hope, Part 23.

By way of application, if your conclusion that some commands are cultural flows from a reluctance to obey God’s will, you are obviously impeding the process of sanctification. When that happens, you forfeit your biblical right to consider yourself a Christian. You cannot detach surrender to His will from the process of sanctification.

Yours, for a life of obedience,


July 2007

Eternal Hope
Part 23

In the last issue of this Co-Laborer series, we explored the necessary link between an eternal hope and the need for sanctification. Before continuing with the rest of the history of eternal hope, we will give thought to what is involved in sanctification.

In May we noted that individual commands in both Testaments do not express the essence of God’s nature and need not be followed by any but those to whom they were given – e.g.: Abraham offers Isaac as a sacrifice, Joseph takes Jesus to Egypt. Most commands in both Testaments are not addressed by conscience or reason – e.g.: touching a corpse is a sin requiring sacrifice, women not having authority over men, not bringing litigation against a fellow-believer. Quite the contrary; a case can be made that they violate reason and, thus, our conscience as well. Many commands appear in one Testament but not another – e.g.: divorce, drunk­enness, head covering, bastards not attending the congregation of the Lord.

You can argue that a distinction exists between His character and His will when applied to general commands; most believers probably do. Although I do not agree, I do not disapprove either. Scripture is too unclear to be dogmatic. If you say a difference between His character and His will exists in these matters, then how do you make the determination between them? Divorce? bastards in the congregation? drunkenness? At this point you turn to reason and conscience – which, I suggest, will lead you where you do not want to go.

Sanctification in the Old and New Testaments

We find in the Old Testament three types of sin:
1 – The violation of God’s moral code, for which there existed no sacrifice, resulting in death.[383]

2 – Sins committed by the individuals, of which the nation as a whole was unaware, and for which the priest made sacrifice once a year at Yom Kippur (cf. Leviticus 16). We looked at this in the third issue of Eternal Hope. Please note, by way of review:

“In order to understand Yom Kippur, it is necessary to divorce it from New Testament concepts of sin and grace. For example, in the Old Testament God linked illness and disease to sinfulness. Diseases such as leprosy were included under God’s broad category of impurity. Leviticus 14 (cf., esp. v. 7) instructs the priest to take a bird and offer it as expiation for the individual’s uncleanness, while setting another bird free, to communicate the idea of riddance. The scapegoat was also set free, and in bearing the sins of the nation it played a central role in the ritual of Yom Kippur.” [384] As Hebrews 9 (cf., esp. v. 7) reminds us, Yom Kippur could not atone for willful sins committed by an individual, only sins committed in ignorance; it was a national rather than an individual expiation: “… Yom Kippur became the major occasion for communal penitence.” [385]

“By way of illustration, let’s say that on the Day of Atonement recorded in Leviticus 16, ten people from among the tribes sinned without being exposed. Two of the ten committed adultery, one stole from his neighbor, etc. The nation, ignorant of these sins, offers Yom Kippur in order to assure God’s continued presence with Israel. Although Israel had sinned, the nation’s guilt was expunged by the sacrifice simply because the nation had no way of determining the individual guilt of the law-breakers. If, after Yom Kippur, one who committed such a crime was discovered, he still had to be either expelled from the community or put to death.

“When the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies with the blood of a bull, he sprinkled the blood on the Mercy Seat for his own sins committed in ignorance. If he had committed willful sin, he could not have functioned as High Priest. If he was aware of the sins committed in ignorance – i.e., he became impure and learned after the fact that he had done it – he would have offered the appropriate sacrifice at the time. Thus, this sacrifice in the Holy of Holies deals with those sins committed unintentionally and without awareness. Because God ties impurity with sin, the priest would not be acceptable to God without this sacrifice of purification at the beginning of the Yom Kippur ritual.”

3 – Unintentional sins, which could be expiated by the sacrifice of an animal.
In the Old Testament economy, God clearly states that He did not provide sacrifice for intentional sin: “But the person who does anything defiantly, whether he is native or an alien, that one is blaspheming the LORD; and that person shall be cut off from among his people. ‘Because he has despised the word of the LORD and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt shall be on him.’”[386] He did establish sacrifices for sins the people could not control – such as the uncleanness of a woman after she had a baby, touching a corpse, or unintentionally eating unclean food: “Speak unto the children of Israel, saying: If a woman be delivered, and bear a man-child, then she shall be unclean seven days; as in the days of the impurity of her sickness shall she be unclean… And when the days of her purification are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt-offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtle-dove, for a sin-offering, unto the door of the tent of meeting, unto the priest.”[387]

Israel viewed sanctification as the necessary means by which she could ensure God’s presence corporately. God assured His people that through the sacrificial system He imputed sanctification to them. However, God’s refusal in the Old Testament to record a promise to the individual granting eternal life seems to indicate that God did not intend Israel’s corporate sanctification to transcend temporal goals and objectives. I can find no compelling reason to conclude that Yahweh’s Old Testament followers thought in terms of individual sanctification.[388]

By way of illustration, note the interaction between Jesus and Peter: “And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.”[389] Obviously, Peter did not see Jesus as the one making it possible to go to heaven; he saw Him, like the rest of Israel, as the conquering King. Jesus never accused the disciples of sinning, and therefore they had no reason to believe they needed individual sanctification. Messiah came to earth; His people did not go with Him to heaven.

In the New Testament, God intends sanctification to prepare His people for an eternity with Him. Unlike the Old Testament paradigm, we go to Him; He does not come to us. He imputes to the believer sanctification, rendering sacrifice unnecessary, while allowing the Holy Spirit to reside in His people. We see this illustrated by Paul addressing 1Corinthians to “the saints in Corinth,” followed by 16 chapters rebuking the Corinthians for ungodly behavior.

We can only conjecture how this life prepares the believer for eternity. Note that God clearly teaches that the believer’s behavior in this life appreciably influences the quality of His eternity with God. Not only so, we cannot imagine a meaningful relation with another person without the involvement of the will. In eternity, will you find yourself meeting the will of God and not wanting to do it? (Jesus did in Gethsemane.) If so, you are best served spending this life schooling yourself in being His obedient slave.

With all commandments, God tests His people, and with the general commandments calls to their attention what He considers intrinsically evil. The violation of every command in Scripture, like the choice facing Adam and Eve in the Garden, is both failing a test and committing an intrinsically evil act. As in the Old Testament, God declared those committing sins of ignorance holy, after they offered a sacrifice, so also in the New Testament God declares us holy by imputed sanctification.

Just as in the Old Testament God did not address issues like drunkenness, hatred, and lusting after a woman, so in the New Testament He does not address issues like touching a corpse, eating of various foods, and laws of cleanliness. Paul, in Romans 11, notes that God did not demand compliance with the Old Testament Law because it would be a barrier to Gentiles coming to Christ. The New Covenant, exposited in Hebrews 8, includes the Law, and God will enforce it during the millennial reign of Christ.

It may be that all the commandments contained in Scripture are “just the tip of the iceberg.” When we arrive in glory, we may find a host of other commands reflecting the nature of God. Just as you should consider evil the violation of New Testament commands, so also, whatever commands await us in glory He will consider them sin if they are transgressed. However, just as God did not hold the Old Testament saints responsible for many of the commands mentioned by Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount, and just as God does not hold the New Testament saints responsible for many Old Testament commands, so also, He currently does not hold people responsible for obeying laws that He may reveal in heaven. His imputation of sanctification makes it possible for us to fellowship with Him.

Obeying God’s commands does not make a person legalistic[390], but rather the opposite. When you major on a life of obedience to God’s commands, you will find yourself tolerant, even when you disapprove of those things not proscribed by Scripture. By way of contrast, when people do not consider violation of God’s commands intrinsically evil, they not only ignore those commands not affirmed by conscience and reason, but they also tend to make non-essentials normative in the lives of others[391].

Progress in Regression

Paul argues in Romans 1:18-32 that the natural flow of religion begins with God and ends with moral degradation. Idolatry, an irrational worldview, flows from man’s insatiable desire for autonomy, which in turn drives man to seek a perpetual state of happiness. Post-modernity leads religion in a quest for this perpetual state of happiness found in autonomy.

Once a person begins this descent described by Paul in Romans, nothing can turn him back but Divine intervention, known as regeneration. Those on the path to moral degradation have neither the desire nor the power to change. The quest for happiness becomes a right, which, when not experienced, breeds anger and even greater degradation, so that eventually the unnatural becomes natural. Idolatry and the quest for happiness cohabit; they are two sides of the same coin.

As the Roman Empire slipped from its former greatness, reflected in its republican form of government giving way to dictatorship, the great minds of the republic saw that man left to himself moved ever more deeply into decadence and degeneration – and the gods were of no help. The Apostle Paul starts here, giving the Christian philosophy of history: God alone can help, and He must take the initiative.[392] The moral bankruptcy of man is such that he cannot find an exit from this abyss.

For this reason, sanctification can never originate with the will of man. For example, when Paul says, “…receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet,”[393] he may be saying that homosexuals are locked into the perception of who they see themselves to be. When David confessed to murder and adultery, he confessed to what he did, not who he was. So too with most sins. However, homosexuality is different today in that such people view it as not what they do, but who they are.


At this point you may be asking, “So what? What difference does this make?” I suggest four fundamental reasons why it is important:

1 – Failure to understand that in the Old Testament God did not record His giving the individual an eternal hope can easily lead you to conclude that He sanctifies His people the same way in both Testaments. This means that the Mosaic Law continues in the New Testament, and you are faced with the application of commandments such as, “A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD.”[394] Does this mean that if your great, great grandfather was a bastard, you cannot go to church?

2 – You may conclude that because many Old and New Testament commands differ from one another, such commands do not reflect the nature and character of God, and therefore conscience and reason determine whether you should obey them. Such reasoning can easily lead you to disobedience. Once again, note that when you accept the premise that some commands reveal His will but not His character, you naturally use the template of reason and conscience on New Testament commands, and on that basis apply or ignore them. Most New Testament general commands are not addressed by conscience. Those believers neglecting New Testament commands do so reasoning that they represent the culture of those times, and not their own culture.

3 – I suggest that in your quest for sanctification, you should understand what God expects of you. For example, some argue that sin must involve the will; if you behave poorly in reaction to something, and you do not involve your will, you cannot call it sin. Others argue that with grace, obligation to keep the commandments does not have a place in sanctification; your sense of obligation is legalism. What did Paul have in mind when he told Timothy that he was “the chief of sinners?”[395] Do you consider yourself, like Paul, the “chief of sinners?” If so, why? If not, why not?

4 – Understanding the ways of God constitutes one of the fundamental reasons for studying Scripture. “As a man thinks, so is he.”[396] Thinking biblically helps you become godly.

Rejoicing in who He is,


September 2007

Eternal Hope
Part 24


As each reader knows, we live in an age in which the queen of virtues is tolerance. Basking in the grace of God means that we need not concern ourselves with obligation. We are free in Christ. Obedience should not be obligatory – that is legalism. Therefore, an emphasis on a life of obedience is an expression of intolerance.

All people in all ages and cultures have believed that truth is absolute. You know this because everyone judges; they cannot help but judge. When you judge as wrong what another does, says, or thinks, you are insisting that not only is truth absolute, but you should be the one defining absolute truth; it is right or wrong not only for you, but also for the person you are judging.

If you argue that those who say Christians must obey the commandments of God are intolerant, then you are left with your own standard of right and wrong. You might say, for an example, “It is not wrong for a man to pray with his head covered, but it is wrong when my neighbor allows his dog to bark all night when I am trying to sleep.” As noted in the last two issues of this letter, such people rely on reason and conscience for their definition of truth. Understand, biblically, such people forfeit their right to an eternal hope, and should plan on spending eternity separated from God.

The Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament

Reflection on The Ethiopian Enoch

This is one of the most, if not the most important documents of the Pseudepigrapha for our study of eternal hope. For this reason, we will spend extra time exploring it.

The Ethiopian Enoch, also called 1 Enoch, differs from the Secrets of Enoch or 2 Enoch in that the former was probably penned in the second century BC, and the latter between 30 BC and 70 AD. “The Book of Enoch is for the history of theological development the most important pseudepigrapha of the first two centuries BC. Some of its authors – and there were many – belonged to the true succession of the prophets, and it was simply owing to the evil character of the period, in which their lot was cast, that these enthusiasts and mystics, exhibiting on occasions the inspiration of the O.T. prophets, were obliged to issue their works under the aegis of some ancient name. The Law which claimed to be the highest and final word from God could tolerate no fresh message from God, and so, when men were moved by the Spirit of God to make known their visions relating to the past, the present, and the future, and to proclaim the higher ethical truths they had won, they could not do so openly, but were forced to resort to pseudonymous publication.”[397]

“Nearly all the writers of the New Testament were familiar with [the Ethiopian Enoch], and were more or less influenced by it in thought and diction.[398] It is quoted as a genuine production of Enoch by St. Jude, and as Scripture by St. Barnabas. The authors of the Book of Jubilees, the Apocalypse of Baruch, and 4 Ezra, laid it under contribution. With the earlier Fathers and Apologists it had all the weight of a canonical book.”[399] Most Evangelicals, of course, do not accept it as canonical, due to the exclusion of all the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha from the canon by the Reformers.

Charles dates the two segments[400] of this work between 187 – 161 BC. The author deals with individual retribution rather than what happens to the nation of Israel. The righteous man suffers in this present life, just as the wicked prosper, but justice reigns in the life to come. “And thence I went to another place, and the mountain of hard rock. And there was in it four hollow places, deep and wide and very smooth. How smooth are the hollow places and deep and dark to look at. Then Raphael answered, one of the holy angels who was with me, and said unto me: ‘These hollow places have been created for this very purpose, that the spirits of the souls of the dead should assemble therein…Then I asked regarding it, and regarding all the hollow places: ‘Why is one separated from the other?’ And he answered me and said unto me: ‘These three have been made that the spirits of the dead might be separated…Here their spirits shall be set apart in this great pain till the great day of judgment and punishment and torment of those who curse forever and retribution for their spirits. There He shall bind them forever. And such a division has been made for the spirits of those who make their suit, who make disclosures concerning their destruction, when they were slain in the days of the sinners. Such has been made for the spirits of men who were not righteous but sinners, who were complete in transgression, and of the transgressors they shall be companions: but their spirits shall not be slain in the day of judgment nor shall they be raised from thence.’ Then I blessed the Lord of glory and said: ‘Blessed be my Lord, the Lord of righteousness, who ruleth for ever.’”[401] Note that the eternal condition of people is determined by the moral choices they made while living; I find no reference to people relating to God by grace. Each person’s eternal destiny is forever fixed by how they lived on earth.

God raises the wicked at the Day of Judgment and at that time they receive punishment and torment. It appears that their souls are raised for this event, but no mention is made of their bodies. “Then said I: ‘For what object is this blessed land, which is entirely filled with trees, and this accursed valley between?’ Then Uriel, one of the holy angels who was with me, answered and said: ‘This accursed valley is for those who are accursed for ever: Here shall all the accursed be gathered together who utter with their lips against the Lord unseemly words and of His glory speak hard things. Here shall they be gathered together, and here shall be their place of judgment. In the last days there shall be upon them the spectacle of righteous judgment in the presence of the righteous forever: here shall the merciful bless the Lord of glory, the Eternal King. In the days of judgment over the former, they shall bless Him for the mercy in accordance with which He has assigned them (their lot).’ Then I blessed the Lord of Glory and set forth His glory and lauded Him gloriously.”[402] This “accursed valley” may refer to Gehenna.

The second section of Enoch, which Charles considers written by the Essenes, was embraced by Christians and thus rejected by the Jews. “So thoroughgoing, indeed, was this rejection, that, although he was the chief figure next to Daniel in Jewish Apocalyptic prior to 40 AD, in subsequent Jewish literature his achievements are ascribed sometimes to Moses, … Ezra or else to Baruch… It is to the Christian Church that we owe the preservation alike of Jewish apocalypses and of the Septuagint.”[403] It deals with the undeserved calamities of God’s people; how can a just God inflict such pain on His own? God answers by noting that although Israel sins, the undue severity of retribution comes, not from God, but the angels or shepherds into whose care He entrusted His people. “And He called seventy shepherds, and cast those sheep to them that they might pasture them, and He spake to the shepherds and their companions: ‘Let each individual of you pasture the sheep henceforward, and everything that I shall command you that do ye. And I will deliver them over unto you duly numbered, and tell you which of them are to be destroyed-and them destroy ye.’ And He gave over unto them those sheep. And He called another and spake unto him: ‘Observe and mark everything that the shepherds will do to those sheep; for they will destroy more of them than I have commanded them. And every excess and the destruction which will be wrought through the shepherds, record (namely) how many they destroy according to my command, and how many according to their own caprice: record against every individual shepherd all the destruction he effects. And read out before me by number how many they destroy, and how many they deliver over for destruction, that I may have this as a testimony against them, and know every deed of the shepherds, that I may comprehend and see what they do, whether or not they abide by my command which I have commanded them. But they shall not know it, and thou shalt not declare it to them, nor admonish them, but only record against each individual all the destruction which the shepherds effect each in his time and lay it all before me.’”[404]

In the last days, “While the struggle is still raging, God will intervene in person, and the earth will open her mouth and swallow them up (xc. 19, 16, 18). Then a throne will be ‘erected in the pleasant land’ (xc. 20), and first the lustful angels, who had wrought such woe through their sin with women, will be judged and condemned to the abyss of fire, which is full of fire and flame and pillars of fire, and likewise the seventy angels who had dealt treacherously with Israel (xc. 20-25). The apostate Jews are next judged, and cast into Gehenna (xc. 26, 27). With this last act the great Assize will close. Then God Himself will set up the New Jerusalem (xc. 28-29, and the surviving non-Jewish nations will be converted and serve Israel (xc. 30), and the dispersion will be brought back, and the righteous dead of Israel will be raised to take part in the kingdom (xc. 33). Then the Messiah will appear amongst them, and all the righteous will be transformed into His likeness (xc. 38); and God will rejoice over them.”[405] According to Enoch, only the righteous dead experience the resurrection, at which time they are transformed into the likeness of Messiah.

Note too that the author of Enoch has a developed concept of hell: “I tell you, ye sinners, ye are content to eat and drink, and rob and sin, and strip men naked, and acquire wealth and see good days. Have ye seen the righteous how their end falls out, that no manner of violence is found in them till their death? ‘Nevertheless they perished and became as though they had not been, and their spirits descended into Sheol in tribulation.’”[406] “Know ye that their souls will be made to descend into Sheol and they shall be wretched in their great tribulation. And into darkness and chains and a burning flame where there is grievous judgment shall your spirits enter; and the great judgment shall be for all the generations of the world. Woe to you, for ye shall have no peace.”[407]

Enoch divides history into ten weeks of varying length.[408] “And after this, in the tenth week in the seventh part, there shall be the great eternal judgment, in which He will execute vengeance amongst the angels. And the first heaven shall depart and pass away, and a new heaven shall appear, and all the powers of the heavens shall give sevenfold light. And after that there will be many weeks without number for ever, and all shall be in goodness and righteousness, and sin shall no more be mentioned for ever.”[409] Enoch seems to suggests that because the angels sin and will be judged, God needs to create a new heaven as well as a new earth.


We noted as we began this issue that this work is probably the most strategic of the extra-biblical writings. For this reason, we will need to spend added time on it in the next issue.

Eager for His return,

November 2007

Dear Co-laborer,

Eternal Hope
Part 25


Dating the Pseudepigrapha presents a bit of a conundrum: Most acknowledged scholars tend to be liberal in their critical work. For example, because Daniel prophesizes so accurately the future, these scholars tend to date Daniel around the second century, BC, after the events prophesized by Daniel. They also tend to conclude that biblical writers borrowed from other religions rather than vice versa. Because the Pseudepigrapha uses phrases and language similar to the New Testament, these scholars argue that the literature was mostly written during the years before the coming of Christ; the New Testament writers borrowed from the Pseudepigrapha rather than vice versa.

If the authors of the Pseudepigrapha borrowed from the New Testament, as conservative scholars are wont to conclude, we lose an explanation for where the New Testament received its fully developed eternal hope. The liberal scholars solve this mystery when dating the Pseudepigrapha prior to the time of Christ, which in turns makes much of the New Testament unoriginal. Many, if not most conservative scholars consider the Pseudepigrapha as the fictions of Christians of the second and third centuries. You will see this dilemma as we analyze the various works comprising the Pseudepigrapha.

Irrespective of where you place these writings in the history of Israel, you still face the question of where the Pseudepigrapha writers received the promise of an eternal hope, if they did not borrow from the New Testament writers; either way the problem of the origin of an eternal hope remains unanswered. All we know is, from the Babylonian Exile to the ministry of our Lord, there developed a fully mature theology of an eternal hope, with all of its various components.

Continued Reflections on The Ethiopian Enoch

Charles cuts from Enoch chapters 37 – 70, dates them between 94 – 64 BC, and calls them “Similitudes.” You find in this section a rather startling account of Messiah and His mission. To begin, He is called “Son of Man:” “And from henceforth there shall be nothing corruptible; for that Son of Man has appeared, and has seated himself on the throne of his glory, and all evil shall pass away before his face, and the word of that Son of Man shall go forth and be strong before the Lord of Spirits.”[410] In Him dwells all wisdom and He will bring to light all things: “For he is mighty in all the secrets of righteousness, and unrighteousness shall disappear as a shadow, and have no continuance; because the Elect One standeth before the Lord of Spirits, and his glory is for ever and ever, and his might unto all generations. And in him dwells the spirit of wisdom, and the spirit which gives insight, and the spirit of understanding and of might, and the spirit of those who have fallen asleep in righteousness. And he shall judge the secret things, and none shall be able to utter a lying word before him; for he is the Elect One before the Lord of Spirits according to His good pleasure.”[411]

To Him God delegates all judgment: “And he sat on the throne of his glory, and the sum of judgment was given unto the Son of Man, and he caused the sinners to pass away and be destroyed from off the face of the earth, and those who have led the world astray.”[412] At the judgment He calls all to account: And in those days shall the earth also give back that which has been entrusted to it, and Sheol also shall give back that which it has received, and hell shall give back that which it owes.”[413] “And these measures shall reveal all the secrets of the depths of the earth, and those who have been destroyed by the desert, and those who have been devoured by the beasts, and those who have been devoured by the fish of the sea, that they may return and stay themselves
On the day of the Elect One; for none shall be destroyed before the Lord of Spirits, and none can be destroyed.”[414]

Heaven and earth are transformed and God’s people enjoy the mansions prepared for them: “Then will I cause Mine Elect One to dwell among them. And I will transform the heaven and make it an eternal blessing and light and I will transform the earth and make it a blessing: And I will cause Mine elect ones to dwell upon it: But the sinners and evil-doers shall not set foot thereon.”[415] “And after that I saw all the secrets of the heavens, and how the kingdom is divided, and how the actions of men are weighed in the balance. And there I saw the mansions of the elect and the mansions of the holy, and mine eyes saw there all the sinners being driven from thence which deny the name of the Lord of Spirits, and being dragged off: and they could not abide because of the punishment which proceeds from the Lord of Spirits.”[416]

Thus, this writer portrays Christ very much like the New Testament in general and Revelation in particular: “For wisdom is poured out like water, and glory faileth not before him for evermore. For he is mighty in all the secrets of righteousness, and unrighteousness shall disappear as a shadow, and have no continuance; because the Elect One standeth before the Lord of Spirits, and his glory is for ever and ever, and his might unto all generations.”[417]

We know that the Epistle of Jude borrowed from Enoch rather than vice versa: “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”[418] Jude says he quotes from Enoch: “And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones to execute judgment upon all, and to destroy all the ungodly: And to convict all flesh of all the works of their ungodliness which they have ungodly committed, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”[419] This, of course, means that Enoch had to predate Jude.

Reflections on The Testament of Abraham

Abraham is ostensibly 995 years old when Michael comes to him with news that he must die. In the beginning Abraham refuses to relinquish his spirit, and when he relents God rewards him with a vision of the world of spirits. In the vision Abraham sees another spirit “weighed in the balance and found wanting,” prays for him, resulting in that spirit entering Paradise.[420] From where did the author get the idea of a Paradise after death? Was he borrowing from the story told by Jesus of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31?

Reflections on The Testament of Job

Sitis, the wife of Job, grieves for her children. In a vision, Job sees their children crowned with heavenly beauty. On hearing this, Sitis dies and joins her children. We see an obvious belief in the eternal, but no date can be set on when the book was written, and no indication that a Christian wrote it.

Reflections on The Sibylline Oracles

Scholars do not know the origin of these oracles. From early times people looked to oracular utterances for divine guidance. The compilation of oracles contained in this work probably covers a period from 160 BC to the fifth century AD, although even this cannot be stated with certainty. During the days of the Maccabean revolt eschatology began to play a prominent role in Jewish thinking. “They testify to the deep-rooted dissatisfaction with the present conditions among the most loyal spirits of the Jews, and the confident hope that the apparent injustice of God’s dealings in the world as shown in the triumph of His enemies, would be righted within no very long time by the vindication of His Divine purpose for men.”[421]

The Sibylline Oracles can be classed as Pagan, Jewish, or Christian. In many cases, however, the Christians merely revised or interpolated the Jewish documents, and thus we have two classes of Christian Oracles, those adopted from Jewish sources and those entirely written by Christians.[422]

“Clement of Alexandria quotes freely from all the Jewish books and even represents St. Paul as appealing to the Sibyl (Strom. Vi), and Celsus (ap. Orig.v, 4) is moved to ridicule by their frequent use in Christian writers … Augustine is aware of the prejudice against them [Sibyl], but in discussing their claims he finds nothing in them pertaining to the worship of false gods and he gravely admits the Sibyl to the number of those who belong to the City of God (de Civ. Dei xviii.23).”[423]

In the last days a comet calls attention to the end: “In the west a star shall shine, which they shall call a comet, a messenger to men of the sword, famine, death, and the destruction of ruling men and great notables.”[424] A war, similar to that described in Revelation 15-16 and 19, destroys the evil, preserving the godly: “And then a wintry blast shall blow throughout the earth, and the plain shall be filled again with cruel war. For fire shall rain on mortal men from the fields of heaven, fire and blood, water, meteor, darkness, heaven’s night, and consumption in war and a mist over the slain shall destroy at once all kings and the best of men. Then at last war’s piteous ruin shall be stopped and no man shall fight any more with swords or steel, nor with javelins either, for these things shall no more be permitted. But the wise people that are left shall have peace, having had trial of evil that later they might rejoice.”[425]

This judgment ushers in a time of blessed peace for the godly: “And then indeed he will raise up his kingdom for all ages over men, he who once gave a holy law to godly men, to all of whom He promised to open out the earth and the world and the portals of the blessed and all joys, and everlasting sense and eternal gladness.”[426] Messiah claims His rightful place as ruler; He establishes what appears to be the New Jerusalem: “For there has come from the plains of heaven a blessed man with the scepter in his hand which God has committed to his clasp: and he has won fair dominion over all and has restored to all the good the wealth which the former men took. And he has destroyed every city from its foundations with sheets of fire, and burnt up the families of men who before wrought evil, and the city which God loved he made more radiant than the stars and the sun and the moon…”[427]


As this literature begins to overlap the Christian era, you can see an increasing emphasis placed on an eschatological hope that includes the individual. But nowhere in any of the Pseudepigrapha do you find a discussion on how God can satisfy His justice in allowing the sinner into heaven. The authors assume those worthy of eternal life live holy lives and thus merit an eternity with God. You don’t find a clear explanation of Jesus’ propitious death until the Pauline epistles.

Grateful for grace,

January 2008

Eternal Hope
Part 26


I fear that this series on Eternal Hope has become too esoteric and tedious for many of you to whom I send this letter. I find the question dealing with the origin of God’s revealing His promise of an eternal hope to the individual intriguing. God’s promise of heaven to the individual believer plays such a central role in our lives, why did He wait so long before recording it in Scripture? And why, since we see evidences of it appearing in the literature between the closing of the Old Testa­ment and the beginning of the New Testament, did He tie it to a work’s right­eousness rather than a gift of His grace? It is my prayer that you will not only think on this with me but cull from this study important ramifications for our lives today.


Sheol is used in the Old Testament as the abode of the dead. Frequently, this state of the dead is called “sleep.” For example: “’But when I sleep with my fathers, thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their burying-place.’ And he said: ‘I will do as thou hast said.’”[428] “And the LORD said unto Moses: ‘Behold, thou art about to sleep[429] with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go astray after the foreign gods of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake Me, and break My covenant which I have made with them.”[430] “And why dost Thou not pardon my transgression, and take away mine iniquity? For now shall I lie down in the dust; and Thou wilt seek me, but I shall not be.”[431] The word “lie” also means “sleep.” “With their poison I will prepare their feast, and I will make them drunken, that they may be convulsed, and sleep a perpetual (olam) sleep, and not wake, saith the LORD … And I will make drunk her princes and her wise men, her governors and her deputies, and her mighty men; and they shall sleep a perpetual (olam) sleep, and not wake, saith the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts.”[432] Jeremiah calls it a “perpetual” or “eternal sleep.”

In the post-Exilic prophets it appears that the righteous must abide in Sheol (apart from God?) until the Messianic Kingdom. Later Sheol is replaced by the doctrine of Paradise or heaven. Because the hope of the individual and nation are so completely intertwined, the individual does not experience the fulfillment of the promise until God inaugurates the Messianic kingdom. This takes place after Daniel’s seventy weeks. [433]

The author of Ethiopic Enoch (1 Enoch) acknowledges the injustice of the wicked sinning with impunity, but argues that God records their evil for the Day of Judg­ment. “And now fear not, ye righteous, when ye see the sinners growing strong and prospering in their ways: be not companions with them, but keep afar from their violence; for ye shall become companions of the hosts of heaven. And, although ye sinners say: ‘All our sins shall not be searched out and be written down,’ nevertheless they shall write down all your sins every day. And now I show unto you that light and darkness, day and night, see all your sins.”[434] These evil people will be slain in Sheol. “Woe to you who spread evil to your neighbors; for you shall be slain in Sheol.”[435] Note that Sheol is now considered the same as hell. Those sent there can never escape. “And how they have died in prosperity and in wealth, and have not seen tribulation or murder in their life; and they have died in honor, and judgment has not been executed on them during their life. Know ye, that their souls will be made to descend into Sheol and they shall be wretched in their great tribulation. And into darkness and chains and a burning flame where there is grievous judgment shall your spirits enter; and the great judgment shall be for all the generations of the world. Woe to you, for ye shall have no peace.”[436]


This work, written toward the end of the power of John Hyrcanus[437] (c. 109 BC), sees the Maccabean dynasty, which by this time had reached its zenith, as the fulfillment of the Old Testament Messianic promises. Hyrcanus combined the three offices of prophet, priest, and king, and thus the Pharisaic party recognized him as the actual Messiah.[438] The Messianic Psalm 110 says, “The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent: ‘Thou art a priest for ever after the manner of Melchizedek.’”[439] You will remember that the author of Hebrews quotes this to prove that Christ came to function as our high priest. The Pharisees reasoned the same way in declaring John Hyrcanus the Anointed One, or Messiah.

The author of Jubilees taught that there was no hope for the Gentiles: God had placed them under angelic guardians with the object of accomplishing their destruction (xv.31). Moreover, the Jew who intermarried with them should be put to death, and the man who gave his daughter in marriage to a Gentile should be stoned with stones (xxx.7-17). How different the spirit of the author of the Testaments. A true son of the large-hearted O.T. proph­ets, he proclaims the salvation of the Gentiles. The promised time has come.

The kingdom is already established, and all the Gentiles will be saved through Israel. In the Judgement the conduct of the best heathen will form the norm according to which Israel shall be judged.[440]

Levi plays a special role in this work: “For to Levi the Lord gave the sovereignty… There­fore I command you to hearken to Levi, because he shall know the law of the Lord, and shall give ordinances for judgment and sacrifice for all Israel until the completion of the times of anointed,[441] the High Priest whom the Lord hath declared… he shall bless Israel; and specially Judah, because him hath the Lord chosen to rule over all the peoples. And worship we his Seed, because He shall die for us in wars visible and invisible, and shall be among you an everlasting king.”[442]

The angel reveals to Levi the seven heavens and their meanings: “Hear, then, concerning the seven heavens. The lowest is for this cause more gloomy, in that it is near all the iniquities of men. The second hath fire, snow, ice, ready for the day of the ordinance of the Lord…in it are all the spirits of the retributions for vengeance on the wicked. In the third are the hosts of the armies which are ordained for the Day of Judgment, to work vengeance on the spirits of deceit and of Beliar. And the heavens up to the fourth above these are holy, for in the highest of all dwelleth the Great Glory, in the holy of holies, far above all holiness. In the heaven next to it are the angels of the presence of the Lord, who minister and make propitiation to the Lord for all the ignorances of the righteous;[443] …in the heaven below this are the angels who bear the answers to the angels of the presence of the Lord. And in the heaven next to this are thrones, dominions, in which hymns are ever offered to God. Therefore, whenever the Lord looketh upon us, all of us are shaken; yea, the heavens, and the earth, and the abysses, are shaken at the presence of His majesty; but the sons of men, regarding not these things, sin, and provoke the Most High.”[444]

The prophet Daniel predicts a period of sixty-nine weeks, followed by a week of tribulation, after which the Lord establishes His kingdom. After making reference to the “seventy weeks” Levi is told of the Judgment of the Lord: “And after their punishment shall have come from the Lord, then will the Lord raise up to the priesthood a new Priest, to whom all the words of the Lord shall be revealed; and He shall execute a judgment of truth upon the earth, in the fullness of days…He shall be magnified in the world until His ascen­sion. He shall shine forth as the sun in the earth, and shall drive away all darkness from the world under heaven, and there shall be peace in all the earth. The heavens shall rejoice in His days, and the earth shall be glad, and the clouds shall be joyful, and the knowledge of the Lord shall be poured forth upon the earth, as the water of seas… And in His priesthood shall all sin come to an end, and the lawless shall rest from evil, and the just shall rest in Him. And He shall open the gates of paradise… and He shall give to His saints to eat from the tree of life, and the spirit of holiness shall be on them. And Beliar[445] shall be bound by Him…And the Lord shall rejoice in His children, and the Lord shall be well pleased in His beloved forever.”[446]

According to Benjamin, there will be a general resurrection: “Then shall ye see Enoch, Noah, and Shem, and Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, arising on the right hand in glad­ness. Then shall we also arise, each one over our tribe, worshipping the King of heaven, who appeared upon the earth in the form of a man of humility. And as many as believed on Him on the earth shall rejoice with Him; and then shall all men arise, some unto glory and some unto shame. And the Lord shall judge Israel first, even for the wrong they did unto Him; for when He appeared as a deliverer, God in the flesh, they believed Him not. And then shall He judge all the Gentiles, as many as believed Him not when He appeared upon earth.”[447]


The major issue in dispute in the scholarly literature remains whether The Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs is a Jewish document with light Christian editing (which is removable with judicious redaction criticism) or a Christian document that has heavily reworked various Jewish sources. Credible scholars can be sited for both positions. “Cave placed the composition of the Testaments about a.d.192, but concedes a much earlier origin to the first portion of the work… He is a Christian awakening to the real purport of the Old-Testament Scriptures, and anxious to lead rather than drive his brethren after the flesh to the discovery of Him ‘concerning whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write:’ not a ‘Judaizing Christian,’ as Cave imagined, but the reverse, -a Christianizing Jew… The author of this book was anxious to show that the twelve patriarchs were twelve believers in the Paschal Lamb, and that they died in Christian penitence and faith.”[448] This scholar argues that the purpose of this Jewish author was the conversion to Christianity of his countrymen and thus employs the names of the patriarchs as a vehicle for winning their descendents to Christ. Strong support for this position can be seen in the Testament of Judah: “And I saw that from Judah was born a virgin wearing a linen garment, and from her was born a lamb, and on his left hand there was, as it were, a lion: and all the beasts rushed against him, and the lamb overcame them, and destroyed them, and trod them under foot.”[449]

By way of contrast, R. H. Charles dates this work, in part, in the latter half of the second century BC, and the rest in the first century BC.[450] He believes this book to be the work of a Pharisee, writing during the reign of John Hyrcanus I (2nd century BC). Only Pharisaism survived the destruction of Jerusalem (70 AD), and we find no trace of this book in the life of Judaism after the cessation of the Jewish state. The reference to Christian themes probably places its origin in the 2nd century AD.

Thus, we see that whether the author’s intent is to Christianize Jews or to promote messianic Judaism, the literature that exists between the closing of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament presents to its readers a promise of heaven and a detailed eternal hope not present in the Old Testament. Even in Levi hope links more with works’ righteousness than with God’s grace.

May, 2008

Dear Co-Laborer,

Eternal Hope
Part 27


Summarizing what we find in the strictly Jewish and pre-Christian Apocalypses: “With these writers the doctrine of the Last Things is always brought into close relationship to that of the Messiah. His coming is the signal for the end of the world, the last judgment, the punishment of the wicked and the reward of the righteous.”[451] Up to this point I have found no hint in the Old Testament, Apocry­pha, and Pseudepigrapha (with the exception of David’s statement: “How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit!”[452]) that suggests people may relate to God on the basis of grace.


Charles reasons that it was written in the first century AD.[453] Similar in many ways to Baruch, 4 Ezra nevertheless represented a Christian worldview while Baruch a Jewish worldview. 4 Ezra contains a great deal of Apocalyptic material: The book opens much like Habakkuk, asking the question, how can Israel’s continuous affliction be reconciled with God’s justice?

First note that Ezra pictures a God who cares little for the human race as such but does commit Himself to the righteous. Those granted an eternal hope are few in number; the vast majority are alienated from God and condemned: “For whereas you have said that the righteous are not many but few, while the ungodly abound, hear the explanation for this. ‘If you have just a few precious stones, will you add to them lead and clay?’ I said, ‘Lord, how could that be?’ And he said to me, ‘Not only that, but ask the earth and she will tell you; defer to her, and she will declare it to you. Say to her, ‘You produce gold and silver and brass, and also iron and lead and clay; but silver is more abundant than gold, and brass than silver, and iron than brass, and lead than iron, and clay than lead.’ Judge therefore which things are precious and desirable, those that are abun­dant or those that are rare?’ I said, ‘O sovereign Lord, what is plentiful is of less worth, for what is more rare is more precious.’ He answered me and said, ‘Weigh within yourself what you have thought, for he who has what is hard to get rejoices more than he who has what is plentiful. So also will be the judgment which I have promised; for I will rejoice over the few who shall be saved, because it is they who have made my glory to prevail now, and through them my name has now been honored. And I will not grieve over the multitude of those who perish; for it is they who are now like a mist, and are similar to a flame and smoke — they are set on fire and burn hotly, and are extinguished.’ I replied and said, ‘O earth, what have you brought forth, if the mind is made out of the dust like the other created things! For it would have been better if the dust itself had not been born, so that the mind might not have been made from it.”[454] I again note we find no hint of God’s grace in salvation; their works determine people’s eternal destiny.

Similar to the Apocalyptic passages found in Matthew 24-25 and Revela­tion, God interprets a dream of Ezra as follows: “This is the interpretation of the vision: As for your seeing a man come up from the heart of the sea, this is he whom the Most High has been keeping for many ages, who will himself deliver his creation; and he will direct those who are left. And as for your seeing wind and fire and a storm coming out of his mouth, and as for his not holding a spear or weapon of war, yet destroying the onrushing multitude which came to conquer him, this is the interpretation: Behold, the days are coming when the Most High will deliver those who are on the earth. And bewil­derment of mind shall come over those who dwell on the earth. And they shall plan to make war against one another, city against city, place against place, people against people, and kingdom against kingdom. And when these things come to pass and the signs occur which I showed you before, then my Son will be revealed, whom you saw as a man coming up from the sea. And when all the nations hear his voice, every man shall leave his own land and the warfare that they have against one another; and an innumer­able multitude shall be gathered together, as you saw, desiring to come and conquer him. But he shall stand on the top of Mount Zion. And Zion will come and be made manifest to all people, prepared and built, as you saw the mountain carved out without hands.”[455]

Paralleling Paul’s teaching on the resurrection at the return of Christ, 4 Ezra says, “At that time friends shall make war on friends like enemies, and the earth and those who inhabit it shall be terrified, and the springs of the fountains shall stand still, so that for three hours they shall not flow. ‘And it shall be that whoever remains after all that I have foretold to you shall himself be saved and shall see my salvation and the end of my world. And they shall see the men who were taken up, who from their birth have not tasted death; and the heart of the earth’s inhabitants shall be changed and converted to a different spirit. For evil shall be blotted out, and deceit shall be quenched; faithful­ness shall flourish, and corruption shall be overcome, and the truth, which has been so long without fruit, shall be revealed.’”[456]

Messiah returns to rule 400 years, the time that Israel was held captive in Egypt:[457] “For behold, the time will come, when the signs which I have foretold to you will come to pass, that the city which now is not seen shall appear, and the land which now is hidden shall be disclosed. And every one who has been delivered from the evils that I have foretold shall see my wonders. For my son the Messiah shall be revealed with those who are with him, and those who remain shall rejoice four hundred years. And after these years my son the Messiah shall die,[458] and all who draw human breath. And the world shall be turned back to primeval silence for seven days, as it was at the first beginnings; so that no one shall be left. And after seven days the world, which is not yet awake, shall be roused, and that which is corruptible shall perish. And the earth shall give up those who are asleep in it, and the dust those who dwell silently in it; and the chambers shall give up the souls which have been committed to them.”[459]

Evidently, Ezra believed in two resurrections, the first in anticipation of Messiah’s reign and the second after His death at the judgment. Ezra describes the judg­ment as follows: “And the Most High shall be revealed upon the seat of judgment, and compassion shall pass away, and patience shall be withdrawn; but only judgment shall remain, truth shall stand, and faithfulness shall grow strong. And recompense shall follow, and the reward shall be manifested; righteous deeds shall awake, and unrighte­ous deeds shall not sleep. Then the pit of torment shall appear, and opposite it shall be the place of rest; and the furnace of hell shall be disclosed, and opposite it the para­dise of delight. Then the Most High will say to the nations that have been raised from the dead, ‘Look now, and understand whom you have denied, whom you have not served, whose commandments you have despised! Look on this side and on that; here are delight and rest, and there are fire and torments!’ Thus he will speak to them on the day of judgment — a day that has no sun or moon or stars, or cloud or thunder or lightning or wind or water or air, or darkness or evening or morning, or summer or spring or heat or winter or frost or cold or hail or rain or dew, or noon or night, or dawn or shining or brightness or light, but only the splendor of the glory of the Most High, by which all shall see what has been determined for them. For it will last for about a week of years. This is my judgment and its prescribed order; and to you alone have I shown these things.”[460]

Although in many ways similar to 2 Baruch, it differs in its close relationship to Christianity; much of it is eschatological, covering a number of subjects found in Daniel and Revelation. As a result, it was warmly received in the church. Much of the eschatological material borrows from Scripture, while at the same time being fantastic. For example, the author describes the last days: “Now concerning the signs: behold, the days are coming when those who dwell on earth shall be seized with great terror, and the way of truth shall be hidden, and the land shall be barren of faith. And unrighteousness shall be increased beyond what you yourself see, and beyond what you heard of formerly. And the land which you now see ruling shall be waste and untrodden, and men shall see it desolate. But if the Most High grants that you live, you shall see it thrown into confusion after the third period; and the sun shall suddenly shine forth at night, and the moon during the day. Blood shall drip from wood, and the stone shall utter its voice; the peoples shall be troubled, and the stars shall fall. And one shall reign whom those who dwell on earth do not expect, and the birds shall fly away together; and the sea of Sodom shall cast up fish; and one whom the many do not know shall make his voice heard by night, and all shall hear his voice. There shall be chaos also in many places, and fire shall often break out, and the wild beasts shall roam beyond their haunts, and menstruous women shall bring forth monsters. And salt waters shall be found in the sweet, and all friends shall conquer one another; then shall reason hide itself, and wisdom shall withdraw into its chamber, and it shall be sought by many but shall not be found, and unrighteousness and unrestraint shall increase on earth. And one country shall ask its neighbor, ‘Has righteousness, or any one who does right, passed through you?’ And it will answer, ‘No.’ And at that time men shall hope but not obtain; they shall labor but their ways shall not prosper. These are the signs which I am permitted to tell you, and if you pray again, and weep as you do now, and fast for seven days, you shall hear yet greater things than these… Behold, the days are coming, and it shall be that when I draw near to visit the inhabitants of the earth, and when I require from the doers of iniquity the penalty of their iniquity, and when the humiliation of Zion is complete, and when the seal is placed upon the age which is about to pass away, then I will show these signs: the books shall be opened before the firmament, and all shall see it together. Infants a year old shall speak with their voices, and women with child shall give birth to premature children at three and four months, and these shall live and dance. Sown places shall suddenly appear unsown, and full store­houses shall suddenly be found to be empty; and the trumpet shall sound aloud, and when all hear it, they shall suddenly be terrified. At that time friends shall make war on friends like enemies, and the earth and those who inhabit it shall be terrified, and the springs of the fountains shall stand still, so that for three hours they shall not flow.”[461]

Following these calamities, God saves a remnant: “And it shall be that who­ever remains after all that I have foretold to you shall himself be saved and shall see my salvation and the end of my world. And they shall see the men who were taken up, who from their birth have not tasted death; and the heart of the earth’s inhabitants shall be changed and converted to a different spirit. For evil shall be blotted out, and deceit shall be quenched; faithfulness shall flourish, and corruption shall be overcome, and the truth, which has been so long without fruit, shall be revealed.”[462]

Next the author explains that Israel had to experience a history of tribula­tion to prepare her restoration: “’If now that city is given to a man for an inheritance, how will the heir receive his inheritance unless he passes through the danger set before him?’ I said, ‘He cannot, lord.’ And he said to me, ‘So also is Israel’s portion. For I made the world for their sake, and when Adam transgressed my statutes, what had been made was judged. And so the entrances of this world were made narrow and sorrowful and toilsome; they are few and evil, full of dangers and involved in great hardships. But the entrances of the greater world are broad and safe, and really yield the fruit of immortal­ity. Therefore unless the living pass through the difficult and vain experiences, they can never receive those things that have been reserved for them.’”[463] In an interesting passage, Ezra refers to original sin, the product of Adam’s transgression. In the New Testament only Paul discusses this.[464] Because Paul alone, of all biblical writers, calls attention to the imputed sin of Adam, it seems best to conclude that 4 Ezra was written after the Pauline epistles.

As in other literature of this genre, the author(s) conclude that only righteous people gain admittance to heaven, and they are few in number. I cannot find the author making mention of a person relating to God by grace.

July 2008

Eternal Hope
Part 28


Because we don’t know when much of the Pseudepigrapha was written, we cannot determine whether the New Testament writers borrowed from the Pseudepigrapha, as was the case of Jude quoting Enoch, or vice versa. In either case, the origin of an eschatological hope for the individual remains a mystery. It may have come into existence in the Essenes community, to which John the Baptist probably belonged. With the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., not only did the apocalyptic emphasis within Judaism disappear, but the Essenes community disappeared as well.

Reflections on The Psalms of Solomon

A collection of eighteen Psalms, Charles places the date of this work between 70 – 40 BC. It contains two references to eternal life: “They that fear the Lord shall rise unto life eternal, and their life shall be in the light of the Lord, and it shall fail no more.”[465] Again: “And the inheritance of the sinners is destruction and darkness, and their iniquities shall pursue them as far as Hades beneath.”[466] Although these Psalms were well known in the early church, for some reason they did not have a great influence on Christian thinking and passed out of sight until they were rediscovered in the seventeenth century.

Reflections on 2 Baruch

Written during the last half of the first century AD, and thus contemporaneous with most of the New Testament literature, the author(s) represented Orthodox Judaism. Also called The Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch, the various authors were orthodox Jews and probably represented the thinking of the Judaizers Paul faced in his ministry. “In this apocalypse we have almost the last noble utterance of Judaism before it plunged into the dark and oppressive years that followed the destruction of Jerusalem.”[467]

Baruch speaks of the resurrection from the dead: “And it shall come to pass after these things, when the time of the advent of the Messiah is fulfilled, that He shall return in glory. Then all who have fallen asleep in hope of Him shall rise again. And it shall come to pass at that time that the treasuries will be opened in which is preserved the number of the souls of the righteous, and they shall come forth, and a multitude of souls shall be seen together in one assemblage of one thought, and the first shall rejoice and the last shall not be grieved. For they know that the time has come of which it is said, that it is the consummation of the times. But the souls of the wicked, when they behold all these things, shall then waste away the more. For they shall know that their torment has come and their perdition has arrived.”[468]

Using an analogy of a cedar when it dies, the author states of the wicked: “And you kept conquering that which was not yours, and to that which was yours you did never show compassion, and you did keep extending your power over those who were far from you, and those who drew near you, you did hold fast in the toils of your wickedness, and you did uplift thyself always as one that could not be rooted out! But now your time has sped and your hour is come. Do you also therefore depart, O cedar, after the forest, which departed before you, and become dust with it, and let your ashes be mingled together. And now recline in anguish and rest in torment till your last time come, in which you will come again, and be tormented still more.”[469]

In what appears to be a reference to Antichrist, Baruch is told: “The last leader of that time will be left alive, when the multitude of his hosts will be put to the sword, and he will be bound, and they will take him up to Mount Zion, and My Messiah will convict him of all his impieties, and will gather and set before him all the works of his hosts. And afterwards he will put him to death, and protect the rest of My people which shall be found in the place which I have chosen. And his principate will stand for ever, until the world of corruption is at an end, and until the times aforesaid are fulfilled.”[470]

In all probability Baruch refers to the millennium when he says: “And it will come to pass, when he has brought low everything that is in the world, and has sat down in peace for the age on the throne of his kingdom, that joy will then be revealed, and rest appear. And then healing will descend in dew, and disease will withdraw, and anxiety and anguish and lamentation will pass from amonst men, and gladness will proceed through the whole earth. And no one shall again die untimely, nor shall any adversity suddenly befall. And judgments, and revilings, and contentions, and revenges and blood, and passions, and envy, and hatred, and whatsoever things are like these, shall go into condemnation when they are removed… And women shall no longer then have pain when they bear, nor shall they suffer torment when they yield the fruit of the womb. And it shall come to pass in those days that the reapers shall not grow weary, nor those that build be toilworn; for the works shall of themselves speedily advance together with those who do them in much tranquility.”[471]

Paul, in I Corinthians asks, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?”[472] Baruch asks God the same question: “’In what shape will those live who live in Your day? Or how will the splendor of those who (are) after that time continue? Will they then resume this form of the present, and put on these entrammelling members, which are now involved in evils, and in which evils are consummated, or will you perchance change these things which have been in the world as also the world?”[473] God answers: “’Hear, Baruch, this word, and write in the remembrance of your heart all that you shall learn. For the earth shall then assuredly restore the dead, (which it now receives, in order to preserve them). It shall make no change in their form, but as it has received, so shall it restore them, and as I delivered them unto it, so also shall it raise them. For then it will be necessary to show the living that the dead have come to life again, and that those who had departed have returned (again). And it shall come to pass, when they have severally recognized those whom they now know, then judgment shall grow strong, and those things which before were spoken of shall come… For they shall behold the world which is now invisible to them, and they shall behold the time which is now hidden from them: And time shall no longer age them. For in the heights of that world shall they dwell, and they shall be made like unto the angels, and be made equal to the stars, and they shall be changed into every form they desire, from beauty into loveliness, and from light into the splendor of glory.”[474] Evidently, Baruch believed that God would resurrect the body in the exact same condition in which it died, for the sake of recognition, and afterward would transform it into a body more glorious than the angel’s, each according to his desire.

Baruch becomes evangelistic, warning: “And again prepare your souls, so that when ye sail and ascend from the ship ye may have rest and not be condemned when ye depart. For lo! When the Most High will bring to pass all these things, there shall not there be again (a place of repentance, nor) a limit to the times, nor a duration for the hours, nor a change of ways, nor place for prayer, nor sending of petitions, nor receiving of knowledge, nor giving of love, nor place of repentance for the soul, nor supplication for offences, nor intercession of the fathers, nor prayer of the prophets, nor help of the righteous. There is the sentence of corruption, the way of fire, and the path which bringeth to Gehenna. Then He will preserve those whom He can forgive, and at the same time destroy those who are polluted with sins.”[475]

Observations Regarding 3 Baruch

This book of seventeen short chapters probably came into existence in the second century AD. We don’t know much about it and didn’t even know of its existence until the end of the nineteenth century. Scholars deduce that a Jew heavily influenced by Greek thought wrote it, and later a Christian edited it.

I will not delve into it for two reasons: First, its late date means it was probably written after the New Testament. Second, I can find no significant assistance in the material pertaining to an eternal hope.


Much of the Pseudepigrapha that we will study appear repetitive; after reading a couple of the books, you gain few fresh insights. It seems as though, once the eschatological picture took shape, no new ground was broken. The writers gave it their own personal interpretation, but apart from that they all agreed: each individual will be judged according to his deeds; the righteous will be resurrected to a life of bliss; the ungodly will receive his just desert in the after-life; when Messiah comes he will rule the world in after a material recreation.

Faith, as the sine quo non of a relationship with God, is not discussed. The individual relates to God on the basis of works. Messiah comes to rule, not to die for His people’s sins. None of the authors discuss the concept of God providing a substitutionary sacrifice so that He can be both “just and the justifier of him that believes.”[476]

Judaism, with the Old Testament teaching that the temporal is eternal – as seen in passages such as “…I will give you the land forever…”[477] – had a hard time adjusting to an eternal hope divorced from the nation and the land. We can easily see that with Judaism’s rupture and separation from Christianity, an emphasis on an eternal hope began to fade as well.

September 2008

Eternal Hope
Part 29


When Alexander the Great conquered the Middle East in the fourth century B.C., Greek thought began to influence Judaism. Because of the late development of a doctrine of the resurrection and an eternal hope, what role, if any, did the Greeks play in influencing it? The Greeks held two views of the afterlife, sometimes at the same time, although they were conflicting if not incompatible.

As depicted in epics like Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, hope in an afterlife was reserved for those chosen few who were physically related to the gods. Belief in the gods provided no hope for human immortality as such, although most believed that some form of the person continued to exist after death.

Concurrent with this belief in the gods, the Greeks believed in the transmigration of the soul. They viewed the soul as having an eternal existence, but not apart from the body. Through a series of reincarnations they hoped that the individual would eventually blend mystically into an oneness with God – monism. The Greeks are indebted to the Hindus for this worldview.

Both views conceived of the body as a prison from which the soul sought deliverance. Biblically, the soul does not exist prior to birth, and history is linear rather than cyclical. In the Old Testament, even before the development of an eternal hope, the soul, once separated from the body at death, did not migrate back in a different life form.

Greek thought did, however, influence Judaism. After the death of Alexander the Great, his empire divided in four factions, the Seleucids of Syria and the Ptolemies of Egypt having the greatest influence on Israel. Because the Greeks were the conquerors and considered their culture superior to all others, a natural trend toward embracing Greek thought developed in the conquered territories. The strongest opposition came principally from two groups: The Pharisees, who were the scribist legal party, emphasized the Law and its importance in Hebrew life. The Chasidim, and later the Essenes, retired from the affairs of this life and as mystics tended toward visions, dreams, and feelings.

A third sect, the Sadducees, sought to adapt to Greek thought by harmonizing their belief in Yahweh with the philosophical ideas of men like Plato and Aristotle. Because Greeks saw the body as the soul’s prison, the Sadducees argued against the resurrection of the body. They confronted Jesus on this point, asking Him which husband a woman would have in the resurrection if she had been widowed and remarried.[478] Again, when the Apostle Paul defended himself before the Sanhedrin, he divided the Pharisees and Sadducees by saying he believed in the resurrection.[479] Some scholars conclude that the Sadducees denied the immortality of the soul, although on this point I am dubious. In all probability, like the Greeks, they believed in the immortality of the soul.

The Sadducees differed from the writers of the Pseudepigrapha in that the former denied the existence of much that the latter promoted: the Pseudepigrapha emphasized a Messianic hope, angelic beings, immortality with rewards and punishments – all of which the Sadducees denied. For this reason, it seems best to conclude that the Sadducees did not contribute to the apocalyptic literature.

The Essenes, as already noted, gave themselves to fantastic practices such as visions and dreams. This fits perfectly with the apocalyptic genre. With the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., both the Sadducees and Essenes faded from the stage of history, and Judaism was primarily defined by Pharisaism. The Pharisees excluded the apocalyptic literature from both the canon and their commentaries on the Law, while including the apocryphal books. We can deduce from this that Pharisees probably did not contribute to the apocalyptic literature. The Rabbis majored on the first five books of the Bible, the Torah.

Rabbinic literature has few traces of Messianic belief, and as far as I can tell, the Mishna was not committed to writing until the end of the second century. By this time a sharp difference existed between the beliefs of the synagogue and church with the Rabbis accentuating the differences by rejecting the apocalyptic contributions of the Essenes.

Reflections on The Book of Jubilees

This book may be (along with Enoch) the most important of the pseudepigrapha writings, although I could not find much dealing with eschatology. It advocates the absolute supremacy of the law along with a glorification of the Levitical priesthood. Written in the Maccabean period (c. 153 BC), the author sees the law as everlasting; it preceded time. Thus, it will continue throughout eternity. The author seeks to chronicle the history of the Bible with the objective of defending Judaism against the attacks of Greek thought. We will look at the Targum[480] later in our study, but note that the author of Julilees’ “work constitutes an enlarged Targum on Genesis and Exodus, in which difficulties in the biblical narrative are solved, gaps supplied, dogmatically offensive elements removed, and the genuine spirit of later Judaism infused into the primitive history of the world.”[481] Both the Patriarchs and the descendents of King David consistently followed the Law. Because the Law was supreme, prophecy could not in any way modify it. For this reason, as already observed, the Intertestamental “prophets” had to write under the guise of pseudonymity.

The author makes reference to the end times, probably the millennium as evidenced by his use of “one thousand years:” “And in those days the children shall begin to study the laws, and to seek the commandments, and to return to the path of righteousness. And the days shall begin to grow many and increase amongst those children of men till their days draw nigh to one thousand years. And to a greater number of years than (before) was the number of the days. And there shall be no old man nor one who is satisfied with his days, for all shall be (as) children and youths. And all their days they shall complete and live in peace and in joy, and there shall be no Satan nor any evil destroyer; for all their days shall be days of blessing and healing. And at that time the Lord will heal His servants, and they shall rise up and see great peace, and drive out their adversaries. And the righteous shall see and be thankful, and rejoice with joy for ever and ever, and shall see all their judgments and all their curses on their enemies. And their bones shall rest in the earth, and their spirits shall have much joy, and they shall know that it is the Lord who executes judgment, and shows mercy to hundreds and thousands and to all that love Him.”[482] Messiah rules over this kingdom, having descended from the tribe of Judah, rather than Levi as some in the priesthood argued. Although the author believes in the immortality of the just, he makes no mention of the resurrection of the body.
Reflections on The Assumption of Moses

This book probably consists of two separate documents: The Assumption of Moses and the Testament of Moses. Written during the life and ministry of Jesus Christ (between AD 7 and 29), parts of it appear in II Baruch, Acts 7:36, Jude 9, 16, 18, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen. “The book was written by a Pharisaic Quietist and was designed by its author as a protest against the growing secularization of the Pharisaic party through its fusion with political ideals and popular Messianic beliefs… for he looked for the return of the Ten Tribes, the establishment of the theocratic kingdom, the triumph of Israel over its foes … The duty of the faithful was not to resort to arms, but simply to keep the law, and prepare, through repentance, for the personal intervention of God in their behalf.”[483]

The author discusses the “Heavenly One” (Messiah?), and His coming: “And then His kingdom shall appear throughout all His creation, and then Satan shall be no more, and sorrow shall depart with him. Then the hands of the angel shall be filled who has been appointed chief, and he shall forthwith avenge them of their enemies. For the Heavenly One will arise from His royal throne, and He will go forth from His holy habitation with indignation and wrath on account of His sons. And the earth shall tremble: to its confines shall it be shaken: And the high mountains shall be made low and the hills shall be shaken and fall. And the horns of the sun shall be broken and he shall be turned into darkness; And the moon shall not give her light, and be turned wholly into blood. And the circle of the stars shall be disturbed. And the sea shall retire into the abyss, and the fountains of waters shall fail, and the rivers shall dry up. For the Most High will arise, the Eternal God alone, and He will appear to punish the Gentiles, and He will destroy all their idols. Then you, O Israel, shall be happy, and you shall mount upon the necks and wings of the eagle, and they shall be ended. And God will exalt you, and He will cause you to approach to the heaven of the stars, in the place of their habitation. And you will look from on high and see your enemies in Ge(henna) and you shall recognize them and rejoice, and you shall give thanks and confess thy Creator.”[484]

Reflections on The Book of the Secrets of Enoch

One of the passages of the Slavonic Enoch dramatizes eternity. Whether it influenced the writings of other authors, or was influenced by others, the author proposes that the world was made in six days, so its history would be accomplished in 6,000 years, and this would be followed by 1,000 years of rest, when the balance of conflicting moral forces has been struck and human life has reached the ideal state. Revelation 20:1-6 teaches that the anticipated 1,000 years of rest is what many Christians call the Millennium.

Heaven or hell awaits each person living: “And I swear to you, yea, yea, that there has been no man in his mother’s womb, but that already before, even to each one there is a place prepared for the repose of that soul, and a measure fixed how much it is intended that a man be tried in this world. Yea, children, deceive not yourselves, for there has been previously prepared a place for every soul of man.”[485] “Stretch out your hands to the poor according to your strength. Hide not your silver in the earth. Help the faithful man in affliction, and affliction will not find you in the time of your trouble. And every grievous and cruel yoke that come upon you bear all for the sake of the Lord, and thus you will find your reward in the day of judgment.”[486]

Those who live righteously will not only escape judgment, they shall inherit everlasting life: “When all creation visible and invisible, as the Lord created it, shall end, then every man goes to the great judgment, and then all time shall perish, and the years, and thenceforward there will be neither months nor days nor hours, they will be adhered together and will not be counted. There will be one aeon, and all the righteous who shall escape the Lord’s great judgment, shall be collected in the great aeon, for the righteous the great aeon will begin, and they will live eternally, and then too there will be amongst them neither labour, nor sickness, nor humiliation, nor anxiety, nor need, nor brutality, nor night, nor darkness, but great light. And they shall have a great indestructible wall, and a paradise bright and incorruptible, for all corruptible things shall pass away, and there will be eternal life.”[487]

The sinner will go to hell, his eternal inheritance: “And those men said to me: This place, O Enoch, is prepared for those who dishonour God, who on earth practice sin against nature, which is child-corruption after the sodomitic fashion, magic-making, enchantments and devilish witchcrafts, and who boast of their wicked deeds, stealing, lies, calumnies, envy, rancour, fornication, murder, and who, accursed, steal the souls of men, who, seeing the poor take away their goods and themselves wax rich, injuring them for other men’s goods; who being able to satisfy the empty, made the hungering to die; being able to clothe, stripped the naked; and who knew not their creator, and bowed to the soulless and lifeless gods, who cannot see nor hear, vain gods, who also built hewn images and bow down to unclean handiwork, for all these is prepared this place among these, for eternal inheritance.”[488]


Jews, who embraced an eternal hope, saw its fulfillment entailing the resurrection of God’s people who died during the time of the Old Testament. At that time the material re-creation of the world provided the restoration of the Old Testament system, along with the Temple and the fulfillment of the national promises. Some believed this included King David once again sitting on his throne.[489]

Grateful for the hope of heaven,

November 2008

Eternal Life
Part 30


In the Pseudepigrapha, “soul” and “spirit” are used interchangeably. At death the entire personality, minus the body, descends into Sheol. Such people are as much alive as those living on the earth. Interestingly, Daniel does not contain the word “soul;” the writer uses only “spirit.”

Reflections on The Letter of Aristeas

You will remember that when Alexander the Great died in the midst of his conquests, his kingdom was divided into four parts. One of his generals, Ptolemy, took control of Egypt. (Cleopatra was the last of the Ptolemys.) Ostensibly, Aristeas was an officer at the court of Ptolemy Philadelphus (285-247 B.C.). He writes to his brother to chronicle the events leading to the Septuagint version of the Old Testament Law.

He is the first Jewish apologist to use allegory, a method of interpretation widely used in the church. He believed, as did many Jewish apologists, that Greek philosophers derived their wisdom from the Law of Moses. “It is not too much to say that the writer’s one object is to demonstrate the supremacy of the Jewish people – the Jewish priesthood, the Jewish law, the Jewish philosophy, and the Jewish Bible.”[490] I can find nothing of the eternal in the letter.

Reflections on The Books of Adam and Eve

The story begins after the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden. Subsequent to Cain and Abel’s birth, Eve dreams of Abel’s pending murder. Michael, the archangel, comforts her with the promise of Seth. From here the story moves to the dying of Adam surrounded by his sixty-three children. Seth, having never been exposed to death, seeks to reverse the process by returning to the Garden of Eden. Opposed by the devil, Seth returns. Before Adam dies, he makes Eve promise to tell the children of their sin and separation from God. God comforts them with the promise of the resurrection, and Michael brings Adam for cleansing and keeping in paradise until the fulfillment of the promise.

The author probably wrote between the first and fourth centuries A.D. “…the uniform absence of polemic against the Christians, the wide and tolerant view of the future of the Gentiles, the conception of Adam’s or rather Eve’s sin (so nearly akin to that in Paul and 4 Ezra), the old simple hopes of the future Resurrection, the glaring dissimilarity of the Christian interpolated passages… render the earlier date far the more probable for the bulk of the work.” [491]

I find no mention of Messiah in this work, although the author does make reference to the resurrection as illustrated by: “… and Eve wept and said: ‘Woe is me; if I come to the day of the Resurrection, all those who have sinned will curse me saying: Eve hath not kept the commandment of God.’”[492]

Reflections on The Martyrdom of Isaiah

Before dying, King Hezekiah of Judah calls his son Manasseh and Isaiah the prophet into his presence with final instructions before he dies. Isaiah warns the king that Manasseh will ignore his instructions; he will serve the forces of evil. Taking a number of prophets with him, Isaiah departs into the mountains in order to pray and fast for Manasseh. Manasseh, now King of Judah, finds and arrests Isaiah charging him with a number of capital offenses. The king executes Isaiah by sawing him asunder.

Hebrews 11:37 and a number of the Patristics refer to this work. Because the early church quickly turned anti-Semitic, and because the author was in all probability a Jew, it seems best to date it somewhere in the first century A.D.; later Jewish works were not accepted in the church. I can find no reference to the eternal in this writing.

Reflections on The Secrets of Enoch

This work is also called “Slavonic Enoch” or “2 Enoch.” Charles dates the author of this work 1 – 50 AD. The Epistle of Barnabas, and other writings of the Patristics, divides time into seven 1000-year periods. At the end of the sixth 1000-year period Messiah establishes His kingdom lasting 1000 years, following the pattern of God in creation. Thus, the Messianic kingdom is a period of rest. From this comes the Christian idea of the millennial reign of Christ.[493] The author of the Secrets of Enoch adopts the same view of history: “I said to him: Earth you are, and into the earth whence I took you you shalt go, and I will not ruin you, but send you whence I took you. Then I can again receive you at My second presence. And I blessed all my creatures visible and invisible. And Adam was five and half-hours in paradise. And I blessed the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, on which he rested from all his works. And I appointed the eighth day also, that the eighth day should be the first-created after my work, and that the first seven revolve in the form of the seventh thousand, and that at the beginning of the eighth thousand there should be a time of not-counting, endless, with neither years nor months nor weeks nor days nor hours.”[494]

As in Revelation 20, the millennium ends with the final judgment: “And those men took me and led me up on to the second heaven, and showed me darkness, greater than earthly darkness, and there I saw prisoners hanging, watched, awaiting the great and boundless judgment, and these angels were dark-looking, more than earthly darkness, and incessantly making weeping through all hours. And I said to the men who were with me: Wherefore are these incessantly tortured? They answered me: These are God’s apostates, who obeyed not God’s commands, but took counsel with their own will, and turned away with their prince, who also is fastened on the fifth heaven.”[495]

Interestingly, the author believes in the pre-birth existence of the individual. I am not sure, but this may be the influence of some of the Greek philosophers who believed in the transmigration of the soul. Or maybe it comes from his concept of election and the fact that God knew us before the foundation of the world: “And Pravuil[496] told me: All the things that I have told you, we have written. Sit and write all the souls of mankind, however many of them are born, and the places prepared for them to eternity; for all souls are prepared to eternity, before the formation of the world.”[497]

Although it is a fairly long quote, note how Enoch contrasts Paradise with the abode of the damned: “And those men took me thence, and led me up on to the third heaven, and placed me there; and I looked downwards, and saw the produce of these places, such as has never been known for goodness. And I saw all the sweet-flowering trees and beheld their fruits, which were sweet-smelling, and all the foods borne by them bubbling with fragrant exhalation. And in the midst of the trees that of life, in that place whereon the Lord rests, when he goes up into paradise; and this tree is of ineffable goodness and fragrance, and adorned more than every existing thing; and on all sides it is in form gold-looking and vermilion and fire-like and covers all, and it has produce from all fruits. Its root is in the garden at the earth’s end. And paradise is between corruptibility and incorruptibility. And two springs come out which send forth honey and milk, and their springs send forth oil and wine, and they separate into four parts, and go round with quiet course, and go down into the PARADISE OF EDEN, between corruptibility and incorruptibility. And thence they go forth along the earth, and have a revolution to their circle even as other elements. And here there is no unfruitful tree, and every place is blessed. And there are three hundred angels very bright, who keep the garden, and with incessant sweet singing and never-silent voices serve the Lord throughout all days and hours. And I said: How very sweet is this place, and those men said to me: This place, O Enoch, is prepared for the righteous, who endure all manner of offence from those that exasperate their souls, who avert their eyes from iniquity, and make righteous judgment, and give bread to the hungering, and cover the naked with clothing, and raise up the fallen, and help injured orphans, and who walk without fault before the face of the Lord, and serve him alone, and for them is prepared this place for eternal inheritance. And those two men led me up on to the Northern side, and showed me there a very terrible place, and there were all manner of tortures in that place: cruel darkness and unillumined gloom, and there is no light there, but murky fire constantly flaming aloft, and there is a fiery river coming forth, and that whole place is everywhere fire, and everywhere there is frost and ice, thirst and shivering, while the bonds are very cruel, and the angels fearful and merciless, bearing angry weapons, merciless torture, and I said: Woe, woe, how very terrible is this place. And those men said to me: This place, O Enoch, is prepared for those who dishonor God, who on earth practice sin against nature, which is child-corruption after the sodomitic fashion, magic-making, enchantments and devilish witchcrafts, and who boast of their wicked deeds, stealing, lies, calumnies, envy, rancor, fornication, murder, and who, accursed, steal the souls of men, who, seeing the poor take away their goods and themselves wax rich, injuring them for other men’s goods; who being able to satisfy the empty, made the hungering to die; being able to clothe, stripped the naked; and who knew not their creator, and bowed to the soulless and lifeless gods, who cannot see nor hear, vain gods, who also built hewn images and bow down to unclean handiwork, for all these is prepared this place among these, for eternal inheritance.”[498]

“I saw those who keep the keys, and are the guardians of the gates of hell, standing, like great serpents, and their faces were like quenched lamps, and their eyes were fiery, and their teeth were sharp. And they were stripped to the waist. And I said before their faces, ‘Would that I had not seen you, nor heard of your dongs, and that those of my race had never come to you!’ Now they have sinned only a little in this life, and always suffer in the eternal life.”[499]

Because Greek thinking influenced him, the author of this work does not consider the body worth redeeming. Nevertheless, he does see Enoch clothed with a spiritual body after his transfiguration: “And the Lord said to Michael: ‘Go and take Enoch from out of his earthly garments, and anoint him with my sweet ointment, and put him into the garments of My glory.’ And Michael did thus, as the Lord told him. He anointed me, and dressed me, and the appearance of that ointment is more than the great light, and his ointment is like sweet dew, and its smell mild, shining like the sun’s ray, and I looked at myself, and I was like one of the seven highest angels.”[500]

Most of those who die righteous go to the third heaven; Enoch has the privilege of entering the seventh heaven. The Secrets of Enoch, following the pattern of other writings in this era, consider good works the condition that must be met to gain eternal life.

Your friend in Christ throughout eternity,

January, 2009

Eternal Hope
Part 31


Assuming that the Pseudepigrapha is not God-inspired, I am struck by how the writers, having embraced an eternal hope for the just (and eternal damnation for the unjust), embellish with fantastic imagination what eternity for the two groups will be like. These writers do not differ all that much from believers today. The Bible says very little about the details of what heaven and hell will be like, and we can easily “fill in the blanks” with vivid imaginations, quickly making indistinguishable in our minds what is biblical and what is fiction. Most of what the average Christian knows about heaven comes, not from the Bible, but from his own imagination.

Reflections on 4 Maccabees

Written, according to Charles, before 70 AD, it is heavily influenced by Greek thought. As noted in an earlier issue dealing with Maccabees, these books are not sequential. They have in common their commenting on the tumultuous times in the years preceding the New Testament when the Maccabees family played an influential role in Jewish history. The author seeks to show that the proper objective of Stoicism[501] is meeting the expectations of God. As an orthodox Jew, he seeks to motivate the faithful to stand steadfast to the last as they meet persecution.

The author manifests a strong belief in an afterlife, with blessings for the godly and the opposite for sinners: “Therefore, tyrant, put us to the test; and if you take our lives because of our religion, do not suppose that you can injure us by torturing us. For we, through this severe suffering and endurance, shall have the prize of virtue and shall be with God, on whose account we suffer; but you, because of your bloodthirstiness toward us, will deservedly undergo from the divine justice eternal torment by fire.”[502]

Speaking of the mother of the Maccabees sons, he says: “Take courage, therefore, O holy-minded mother, maintaining firm an enduring hope in God. The moon in heaven, with the stars, does not stand so august as you, who, after lighting the way of your star-like seven sons to piety, stand in honor before God and are firmly set in heaven with them. For your children were true descendants of father Abraham.”[503]

Admonishing the faithful to a life of piety, he says: “Let us not fear him who thinks he is killing us, for great is the struggle of the soul and the danger of eternal torment lying before those who transgress the commandment of God.”[504] The author makes no mention of grace; people relate to God on the basis of their works-righteousness.

This concludes my analysis of the Pseudepigrapha. During the Intertestamental period, other men influenced both Judaism and Christianity. We will briefly look at Josephus, the Sayings of the Fathers, the Targums, Philo, and the Talmud.

Comments on Flavius Josephus

The works of Flavius Josephus deal with the history of the Jews at the time of the demise of Israel and the rise of Christianity. Commenting on the various Jewish sects, he says, “… the Pharisees are those who are esteemed most skillful in the exact explication of their laws, and introduce the first sect. These ascribe all to fate [or providence], and to God, and yet allow, that to act what is right, or the contrary, is principally in the power of men, although fate does co-operate in every action. They say that all souls are incorruptible, but that the souls of good men only are removed into other bodies, — but that the souls of bad men are subject to eternal punishment. But the Sadducees are those that compose the second order, and take away fate entirely, and suppose that God is not concerned in our doing or not doing what is evil; and they say, that to act what is good, or what is evil, is at men’s own choice, and that the one or the other belongs so to every one, that they may act as they please. They also take away the belief of the immortal duration of the soul, and the punishments and rewards in Hades…”[505]

Comments on The Sayings of the Fathers

A collection of maxims by Jewish teachers, its compilation took place from the third century BC to the third century AD. Probably compiled by the same Rabbi who collected the teaching of the Mishnah, it came into high regard in Judaism and was included in the liturgy of the synagogue. As already noted, Pharisaism passed through a significant change during these years: when Christianity incorporated Jewish eschatology into the theology of the church, Pharisaism dropped its emphasis on eschatology, majoring on the Law. Thus, I can find no teaching on an eternal hope in the Sayings. Interestingly, you find familiar phrases, as the one attributed to Rabbi Hillel: “…and judge not thine associate until thou comest to his place.”[506]

Reflections on The Intertestamental Targums

During the period between the close of the OT and the beginning of the NT (probably about 100 BC), Targums appeared in Hebrew literature. The word Targum means, “translate, interpret.” “In Hebrew the term can mean translation into any language, and in early rabbinic texts is also used to refer to the Greek Septuagint translation. In modern biblical and Jewish studies its usage is restricted to Jewish and Samaritan translations of the Tanak (Hebrew OT Bible) into Aramaic.”[507]

The scholars that wrote the Targums expanded upon the Old Testament text, adding an eternal dimension not found in faithful Old Testament translations. I will give a couple of illustrations: After Genesis 3:22-24: “For the wicked he prepared Gehenna, which is comparable to a sharp sword devouring with both edges. He prepared within it darts of fire and burning coals for the wicked to be avenged of them in the world to come because they did not observe the precepts of the Law in this world. For the Law is a tree of life for everyone who toils in it and keeps the commandments; he lives and endures like the tree of life in the world to come. The Law is good for all who labour in it in this world like the fruit of the tree of life.”[508]

In Genesis 4:6-8, where Cain’s rejected sacrifice results in his killing his brother Abel: “And the Lord said to Cain… if you make your work in this world to be good, you will be remitted and pardoned in the world to come… Cain answered and said to Abel: There is no judgement, and there is no judge and there is no other world. There is no giving of good reward to the just nor is vengeance exacted of the wicked.”[509] These, and other additions, are not found in the Hebrew Scriptures or in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scripture, the Septuagint.

Comments on Philo

Philo lived and wrote from 25 BC to 50 AD, his work deals more with philosophy than the genre found in the Pseudepigrapha. Living in Alexandria, Egypt, he sought to make Judaism compatible with Greek thought. He evidently believed in the restoration of the tribes of Israel lost after the Assyrian Captivity: “If filled with shame they change their ways with all their soul, and avow and confess with cleansed minds all the sins that they have committed against themselves… then, though they be at the very ends of the earth, slaves of the foes that took them captive, nevertheless as at a given signal, they shall all be set free in one day, because their sudden change to virtue will strike their masters with amazement; for they will let them go, because ashamed to govern those who are better than themselves. But when this unlooked-for freedom has been bestowed, those, who but a short time before were scattered in Hellas and in barbarous countries, or island, and continents, will arise with one impulse and hasten from all quarters to the place pointed out to them, led on their way by a divine superhuman appearance, which though unseen by all others, is visible only to the delivered.”[510]

Following the Greek teaching that the body imprisons the soul, Philo nevertheless believed in judgment for the unrighteous: “But he who is cast out by God must endure a never-ending banishment; for though the man who has not yet become the complete captive of wickedness man on repentance return to virtue as to his native country from which he had gone into exile, he, on the other hand, who is in the grip and power of a violent and incurable disease must bear his sufferings for evermore, and be flung into the place of the godless to endure unmixed and unremitting misery.”[511]

Philo makes no reference to people relating to God based on grace; they relate to Him solely on the basis of their ability to keep the Law.


We can see, as we come to the close of Intertestamental period, that the Jews had already embraced an eternal hope, paving the way for the ministry of our Lord Jesus. Whether this emphasis on the eschatology of the individual originated among the Essenes, we cannot say for sure, but in any event, it was widely propagated and believed. For example, when Jesus gave His Sermon on the Mount,[512] he talked about heaven and hell as though their existence could be assumed. People might ask Him how to get to heaven, but I know of no one who challenged Him on the existence of the after-life.

We will briefly look at the Essenes in the next issue.

March 2009

Eternal Hope
Part 32

During the period of the divided kingdom God’s prophets performed miracles, including raising the dead (1Kings 17:22; 2Kings 4:35). Obviously, Yahweh’s power reached beyond the grave. Still, God’s commitment was to the nation, not to the individual. Thus, God warned in passages such as Exodus 20:5: “…visiting the guilt of the parents upon the children, upon the third and upon the fourth generations of those who reject Me.”

However, Jeremiah 31:29-30 promises: “In those days, they shall no longer say, ‘Parents have eaten sour grapes and children’s teeth are blunted.’ But every one shall die for his own sins: whosoever eats sour grapes, his teeth shall be blunted.”

From the Babylonian Captivity (620 BC) forward, Israel ceased to exist as a state; foreign powers were constantly ruling or at least meddling in her life. For this reason, the emphasis naturally turned from the nation to the individual. Looking in retrospect, the pious Hebrew could see the footprints of God in the translation of Enoch and Elijah. If such righteous men could live with God after death, maybe there was eternal hope for other individuals as well.

Following the above quote from Jeremiah 31, God promises that with the New Covenant He will place His Law in the heart of each individual. From this point forward, thinking people could begin to grasp the concept of eternal accountability for temporal behavior.

In the Intertestamentary Period there emerged a group of Jewish separatists, known as the Essens, who founded a community near the Jordan River between Jericho and En-gedi known as Essenes. The genesis of the Essenes is obscure and enigmatic. Scripture makes no mention of them, although they probably came into existence about 150 BC during the Maccabaean period. Josephus,[513] Philo,[514] and Pliny[515] all refer to them in their writings. The name Essene is as obscure as its origin; although I found a plethora of possibilities, I found none that proved compelling. As far as is known, they numbered no more than 4000 and lived in Palestine – mostly in the vicinity of the Dead Sea.

History of Essenes

Alexander the Great conquered Israel in about 332 B.C. Upon his death his empire was divided between his generals. Israel fell under the control of the Ptolemies who established their center in Egypt. By-and-large, the Ptolemies allowed the Israelites to rule themselves. The Seleucids, from Syria, conquered Israel in 200 B.C. and began a serious endeavor to Hellenize the Jews. At the climax of this conquest Antiochus IV Epiphanes committed the “abomination of desolation” prophesied in Daniel 11:31.

Some of the Jews, especially the Sadducees and the ruling elite of the nation, welcomed the Greek influence. More conservative Jews, including the Pharisees, strongly resisted. These were the days when the Maccabaean family led the people in revolt. It was probably during these days that the Essenes separated themselves, forming the Qumran community near the Jordan River.

Beliefs of the Essenes

Only adults were admitted as members. The initiate spent his first year on probation, and was given a pickax as his first badge, used for modestly disposing of human waste. (Bathing after performing natural functions was required by officiating priests.) At the end of the year he was admitted to the lustrations, followed by two additional years of probation. At the end of the second year he was given as a badge, an apron, and after the third year a white garment. At this point he took an oath of silence and submission, and was allowed to participate in the common meals. Some scholars, like Jerome, believed they abstained from meat and wine.

The community shared all of the members’ assets, including clothing and whatever wages they earned, turning it over to a “manager” who distributed it as needed. From this, provision was made for the sick and aged.

Daily labor was also strictly regulated; each day began with prayer, after which the members began working, mostly in some aspect of agriculture. Late morning they reassembled for purifying ablutions, followed by the common meal. They returned to work in the afternoon and reassembled once again for their evening meal. Trading was considered covetousness, and all manner of weapons was banished from the community.

The Essenes had some beliefs that later were embraced by followers of the Kabbalah. “Kabbalah claims a divine authorship, though it probably originated in the 12th century A.D. Allegedly, the truth of Kabbalah was first given to the angels before God created the world. Mankind then received it on three separate occasions through three different men. Adam was the first to receive the teaching through the Archangel Raziel as Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden. But, because people were more interested in the ways of the world than the things of God, the truth of Kabbalah was eventually lost. It is said that Kabbalah is derived from ancient Hebraic priesthood practices that has the goal of human transformation.”[516] One of the connections between these two strange groups is their common belief in reincarnation.

Stages through which Essene members pass

1 – Outward, bodily purity through baptisms.
2 – Abstinence from sexual intercourse.
3 – Inward spiritual purity.
4 – Banishment of anger and malice coupled with meekness and a lowly spirit.
5 – Holiness.
6 – Qualified to be the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and to prophecy.
7 – Perform miraculous cures and raise the dead.
8 – Finally attain to the position of Elijah, the forerunner of Messiah.

Since contact with those who did not practice these laws of purity, or even coming into the things belonging to these people, rendered them impure, they needed to withdraw from society and form separate communities living apart from the world. They gave themselves to tilling the ground, tending their flocks, rearing bees, and making clothes for the community.

Originally, the Essenes were similar to the Pharisees. Over time, however, differences developed. Like the Pharisees, they sought to rigorously follow the Law, along with a firm belief in Providence. They differed, however, in that the Essenes practiced celibacy, did not frequent the Temple and offer sacrifices, and denied the resurrection of the body. The “dogma” embraced by the community was carefully preserved, as evidenced by the Dead Sea Scrolls.

They had an elaborately defined angelology, and the novices had to swear to preserve the names of angels.[517] It may well be that these beliefs carried over into the Christian movement, addressed by Paul in his epistles.[518] They rejected slavery, oath taking, anointing oil, and luxury of any kind. Schurer believes that their belief in the transmigration of the soul came from Greek influence, primarily from Pythagoreans.[519]

Most Jews felt threatened by the Essenes and their combination of asceticism with spiritual power. Since they were the only Jewish sect to practice celibacy, Jesus may have had them in mind in Matthew 19:12: “For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”

James 5:12 follows Jesus command in Matthew 5:34: “But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne…” Similarly, oath taking was prohibited among the Essenes. Although the connection is dubious, some think John the Baptist came from the Essene community. He led an ascetic life, practiced baptism, and Jesus called him Elijah: “…and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.”


This mysterious group lived and worked in the shadows of the larger Jewish community. Mystery lends itself to speculation, and much of what we think we know about them must be held tentatively. Obviously, the OT did not mention them, for they came into existence in the period between the OT and NT.

I find it strange that we don’t find them mentioned in the NT. In all probability, however, the transformation of Jewish thought from understanding God’s commitment as exclusively to the nation to including the individual was completed in this environment.

Grateful for God’s hand on history,


May 2009

Eternal Hope
Part 33

Scripture contains no mention of the Essenes, and after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. the Jews were dispersed throughout the Roman Empire. At this point, practicing communal asceticism proved impossible, and the Essenes ceased to exist – just as the Sadducees, who were composed of the priestly tribe ceased to exist when Rome destroyed the Temple.[520] Christianity, in the form of monasticism, borrowed the idea of an ascetic, celibate life from the Essenes.

In this issue we look more closely at how the Essenes viewed eternal hope.

Election and Grace

Once the Jews understood that they were entitled to an eternal hope as individuals, they then had to determine on what basis God makes this hope available and how an individual obtains it.

As mentioned earlier in this series, God chose Israel to be the object of His grace. Grace and election are the head and tail of the same coin. God’s commitment to Israel, independent of any intrinsic worth found in the nation, meant that God elected Israel; Israel did not gain favor in the eyes of God, which then warranted His commitment to her. Irrespective of how few faithful individuals lived in Israel at any given moment, God’s commitment was inviolable.[521] Thus, Israel becomes the clearest illustration of grace one can find.

Although God commits Himself to individuals such as Abraham, Moses, and David, at no time in the Old Testament does He grant an individual an eternal covenant of grace, assuring him of a perpetual relationship with God after death. Does this mean that God’s corporate election of the nation resulted in His eternal election of all individuals encompassing that nation? Nothing in the Old Testament suggests this, and the Apostle Paul clearly says the opposite: “For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his descendants; but ‘Through Isaac shall your descendants be named.’”[522]

The Qumran Essenes understood God’s election of Israel, and as the Exilic and Post-exilic Prophets began to emphasize the importance of the individual in God’s economy, they concluded that “only the initiates of their own ‘new Covenant’ were to be reckoned among God’s elect and, as such, united already on earth with the angels of heaven. ‘God has given them to His chosen ones and has caused them to inherit the lot of the Holy Ones. He has joined their assembly to the Sons of Heaven, to be a Council of the Community, a foundation of the Building of Holiness, an eternal Plantation throughout all ages to come’ (IQS XI, 7-9).”[523]

“Convictions of this kind, with their theories of individual election and predestination… can lead to self-righteousness and arrogant intolerance… But the spiritual masters of the Community were doubtless aware of the danger of the sin of pride… The Qumran Hymns… never cease to emphasize the sectary’s frailty, unworthiness and total dependence upon God. ‘Clay and dust that I am, what can I devise unless Thou wish it, and what contrive unless Thou desire it? What strength shall I have unless Thou keep me upright and how shall I understand unless by (the Spirit) which Thou has shaped for me? (IQH XVIII [formerly X], 5-7)’

“Not only is election itself owed to God’s grace, but perseverance in the way of holiness cannot be counted on unless he offers his continuous help and support. ‘When the wicked rose against Thy Covenant and the damned against Thy word, I said in my sinfulness, But calling to mind the might of Thy hand and the greatness of Thy compassion, I rose and stood… I lean on Thy grace and on the multitude of Thy mercies.’ (IQH XII [formerly IV], 34-7)

“Another theme constantly stressed in Essene teaching is that not only is God’s assistance necessary in order to remain faithful to his Law; the very knowledge of that Law is a gift from heaven. All their special understanding and wisdom comes from God. ‘From the source of His righteousness is my justification, and from His marvelous mysteries is the light in my heart. My eyes gazed on that which is eternal, on wisdom concealed from men, on knowledge and wise design (hidden) from the sons of men; on a fountain of righteousness and on a storehouse of power, on a spring of glory (hidden) from the assembly of flesh. God has given them to His chosen ones as an everlasting possession, and has caused them to inherit the lot of the Holy ones.’ (IQS XI, 5-8)”[524] As Markus Bockmuehl notes, “Salvation, on this view, could never be a matter of human merit. The covenanters do not know themselves elect by their works, but on the contrary, their works bear witness to their election.” [525]

As in the New Testament where the believer must maintain a tension between God’s Sovereignty (which is the basis of grace) and man’s responsibility, so too this same tension can be seen in the writings of the Qumran Community. As long as election, and with it an eternal hope, applied only to the nation, the question of human responsibility remained moot. Once the Jews began to understand that an individual can have an eternal hope, they faced this conundrum of Sovereign election and human responsibility.

We noted in looking at the Pseudepigrapha that once the Jews understood God’s commitment to the individual, there accompanied it a straightforward merit-based understanding of salvation. The Essenes, in understanding the role election/grace plays in an individual’s salvation, introduced this tension between grace and free will; both are true even though the human intellect cannot marry the two.

Essenes Influence Seen in the New Testament

Jesus began His public ministry about 38 years prior to the destruction of the Qumran Community and 40 years prior to the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jews. John the Baptist, who may have been an Essene, warned the people of the presumption election can elicit in the human heart: “And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”[526] Most of the Jews of Jesus’ day believed that God’s gracious covenant with the nation included the election of every individual encompassing the nation. For this reason, the gospels emphasize the danger of being presumptive, and you must wait until the Pauline epistles before you are reintroduced to this tension between God’s Sovereignty and man’s responsibility.

Markus Bockmuehl, quoting Otto Betz, says “the Scrolls seem to employ no noun or verb that could be said to correspond closely to the (Pauline) notion of justification.”[527] Because an individual understands the relationship between election and grace, it does not follow that he understands justification – the legal basis by which a just and holy God can take the sinner to heaven, without violating His justice. As far as I can tell, the Apostle Paul was the first to draw this distinction between grace and justification.[528]


In 63 B.C. the Romans, under Pompey, occupied Israel. Offences committed by the Roman government caused the Jews to revolt in 66 A.D., leading to the destruction of Jerusalem four years later. The Qumran community was crushed in about 68 A.D. bringing to an end the Essene Sect. Scholars speculate that the imminent defeat by the Romans caused the Essenes to hastily place their manuscripts in clay jars and hide them in caves. In 1947 a Bedouin goat herder stumbled upon the caves, bringing to light for the first time these manuscripts known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.

In the next issue, Lord willing, we look at the Jewish Talmud.

Grateful for the cross of Christ,


July 2009

Dear Co-laborer:

Eternal Hope
Part 34


Before embarking on a study of the New Testament teaching regarding an eternal hope, I want to briefly look at the Jewish Talmud. Probably the works of rabbinical scholars like Hillel and Gamaliel (of New Testament fame) formed the foundation for what evolved, over the next eight or so centuries, into what we today know as the Talmud. Then I will quote from two rabbinical scholars: Saadia Ben Joseph and Maimonides. In all of this, you will be reading direct quotes of the salient points, as these authors say more clearly and succinctly than can I.


“Hillel, the most respected of the teachers of the Law, the highly-honored ideal in times to come, had given to Judaism a special garb and form, or rather had given it the character of the Law, which had always been peculiar to it. He was the first to develop and confirm a special theory, a sort of Jewish theology or nomology (science of religious laws). He was the founder of Talmudic Judaism…The written Law (that of the Pentateuch) and the oral Law (the Sopheric) from his time ceased to be two widely sundered branches, but were brought into close relations with each other, although the new rendering certainly did violence to the words of Scripture. But as the text was explained, not on a philological (the study of language in texts) basis, but in order to elucidated the laws, it was not possible to keep simply to the written words; it was necessary to interpret them so as to render them suited to the new conditions of life. Under the term Oral Law was included everything which had been handed down from the Fathers, and it formed to a certain extent a hereditary law. The various restrictions which the Sopheric teachers had placed around the Law, the legal decisions which had been introduced by the Synedrion[529], the customs which had been observed from generation to generation, the extensions deduced from meager verses of the Pentateuch, all these elements were not written down, but were committed to memory. They were put into the form of short sentences, called ‘Halacha’… Jochanan ben Zakkai was the man who best knew these laws. He handed them down to his pupils, and printed out to them their connection with the written law; he showed them how to draw deductions therefrom, the laws handed down being the material, and their mode of treatment the form. These deductions were obtained by two methods, the one showing how the ordinances of the Law were to be obtained from the words of Scripture (Midrash), and the other served to apply the oral Law to new questions as they arose (Talmud).”[530]

Jewish Eschatology and the Talmud

“At a very early time the Synagogue disavowed the pseudepigraphic literature, which was the favorite reading matter of the sectaries and the Christians. Nevertheless the inner relation between them is of the closest kind. The only essential difference is that the Midrashic form prevails in the Haggadah[531]…Folklore, fairy tales, legends, and all forms of story telling akin to these are comprehended, in the terminology of the post-Biblical literature of the Jews, under the inclusive description Haggadah, a name that…cannot be translated. Whatever it is applied to is thereby characterized first as being derived from the Holy Scriptures, and then as being of the nature of a story. And, in point of fact, this dualism sums up the distinguishing features of Jewish Legend. More than eighteen centuries ago the Jewish historian Josephus observed that ‘though we be deprived of our wealth, of our cities, or of the other advances we have, our law continues immortal.’ The word he meant to use was not law, but Torah, only he could not find an equivalent for it in Greek… But what is spontaneously brought forth by the people is often preserved only in the form impressed upon it by the feeling and the thought of the poet, or by the speculations of the learned. Also Jewish legends have rarely been transmitted in their original shape. They have been perpetuated in the form of Midrash, that is Scriptural exegesis. The teachers of Haggradah, called Rabban d’Aggradta in the Talmud, were no forklorists, from whom a faithful reproduction of legendary material may be expected. Primarily they were homilists (people who gave lectures on this material), who used legends for didactic purposes, and their main object was to establish a close connection between the Scripture and the creations of the popular fancy, to give the latter a firm basis and secure a long term of life for them… The works of the Talmudic-Midrashic literature are of the first importance. Covering the period from the second to the fourteenth century, they contain the major part of the Jewish legendary material. Akin to this in content if not always in form is that derived from the Targumim, of which the oldest versions were produced not earlier than the fourth century, and most recent not later than the tenth. The Midrashic literature has been preserved only in fragmentary form. Many Haggadot not found in our existing collections are quoted by the authors of the Middle Ages… The works of the older Kabbalah[532] are likewise treasuries of quotations from lost Midrashim, and it was among then Kabbalists and later among the Hasidim[533], that new legends arose… Furthermore, Jewish legends can be culled not from the writings of the Synagogue alone; they appear also in those of the Church. Certain Jewish works repudiated by the Synagogue were accepted and mothered by the Church. This is the literature usually denominated apocryphal-pseudepigraphic. From the point of view of legends, the apocryphal books are of subordinate importance, while the pseudepigrapha are of fundamental value… Nearly all of them are embellished with Christian interpolations, and in some cases the inserted portions have choked the original form so completely that it is impossible to determine at first sight whether a Jewish or a Christian legend is under examination… If the Synagogue cast out the pseudepigrapha and the Church adopted them with a great show of favor, these respective attitudes were not determined arbitrarily or by chance. The pseudepigrapha originated in circles that harbored the germs from which Christianity developed later on. The Church could thus appropriate them as her own with just reason.”[534]

Jewish Thought during Christian era

Saadia Ben Joseph, a celebrated Babylonian Talmud scholar, was born 882 A.D. in Egypt. I will quote him at great length because of the influence he had among Rabbinic scholars: “Our Master… has made it known to us that, when the instances of obedience on the part of His servants predominate, they are accounted unto them as merits, whereas when those of disobedience are predominant, they are accounted as demerits. Furthermore, a record is kept by Him of all this in regard to all of his servants. This is borne out by the statement of Scripture: Great in counsel, and mighty in work; whose eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men (Jer. 32:19). Scripture says also: For His eyes are upon the ways of man, etc. (Job 34:21). Moreover, these activities of men leave their traces upon the latter’s souls, rendering them pure or sullied. Thus Scripture says, apropos of [the effect of] sin: Then he shall bear his iniquity (Lev. 5:1), And he shall bear his sin (Lev. 24:15), And they set their soul on the iniquity (Hos. 4:8), and Its iniquity shall rest on that soul (Num. 15:31). Now even though these facts be hidden from the views of men, and not evident to them, they are perfectly clear to God…”[535] Saadia evidently understands that the Old Testament is vague regarding eternal accountability; it may not be readily apparent to the average interpreter, but it is “perfectly clear to God.”

“He has appointed a period during which the soul and body remain united and at the conclusion of which He separates them again. In this latter state they remain until the number of the souls which His wisdom has deemed necessary to create has been fulfilled. When this has taken place, He will again unite these souls with their bodies and requite them for their conduct… Who knoweth the spirit of man whether it goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast whether it goes downward to the earth? (Eccles. 3:21)… Who knoweth – might be construed as an expression of admiration and praise on noting how two types of soul are attached to two similar bodies. Consequently what he says is: ‘We find that these two bodies are perceptibly alike in their physical constitution and their accidents. Yet we have no doubt, on the other hand, that there exists a difference between the two spirits. Now who is capable of fathoming and understanding this?’ That is indeed the import of his statement preceding this one: For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them; as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath (Eccles. 3:19)… Now the sage could not possibly have meant to imply hereby that the soul of man had no preeminence above a beast… What he meant by this statement was, then, rather merely that the body of man is in no way superior to that of the beast, since it is composed, like that of the latter, of four elements, as he says subsequently: All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all return to dust (Eccles. 3:20). Nevertheless man has spiritual preeminence.” [536]

“The angel who is dispatched by the Creator for the purpose of separating the soul and the body appears to man in the form of a figure of yellowish fire filled with eyes composed of bluish fire and holding in his hand a drawn sword aimed at him. Upon seeing him thus, the person shudders and his spirit separates from his body… For Scripture remarks, apropos of the time of the plague: And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the Lord standing between the earth and the heaven, having a sword drawn in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem (I Chron. 21:16)… the (soul) is stored up until the time of retribution, as is stated in Scripture: And He that keepeth thy soul, doth not He know it? And shall not He render to every man according to his work? (Prov. 24:12). The place, however, where the pure souls are kept is up on height, while that of the turbid is down below… During the first period after its separation from the body, however, the soul exists for a while without a fixed abode until the body has decomposed; that is to say, until its parts have disintegrated. It consequently experiences during this period much misery, occasioned by its knowledge of the worms and the vermin and the like that pass trough the body, just as a person would be pained by the knowledge that a house in which he use to live is in ruins and that thorns and thistles grow in it. Now this painful experience comes to the soul in varying degrees according to its desert, just as does its rank in the world below.”[537]


We will take a break from the thoughts of Saadia Ben Joseph until the next issue. It appears that in at least rabbinical circles there existed a strong belief in the after-life. However, in reading this material, it becomes obvious where reason and imagination can take a person if he does not maintain a clear distinction between Scripture and all other sources of authority. Christ rebuked the religious leaders of His day for this same propensity.[538]

In the bonds of Christ,

September 2009

Eternal Hope
Part 35


We ended Part 27 exploring the thought of Saadia Ben Joseph, a ninth century rabbinic scholar, on the subject of the resurrection and the reign of Messiah. We will continue looking at his thinking, and then move on to look at Maimonides.

Saadia Ben Joseph

“Let me say here, then, that I have inquired and investigated and verified the belief of the masses of the Jewish nation that the resurrection of the dead would take place at the time of the redemption… He apprised His prophet Ezekiel thereof in advance saying to him: Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say: Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut of (Ezek. 37:11). Then He order him to bring us the good tidings of our resurrection from our graves and of the resuscitation of all our dead, by saying to him immediately thereafter: Therefore prophesy, and say unto them: Behold, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, O My people (Ezek. 37:12). Lest, however, we think that this promise was made only for the world to come, He added at the end of the statement the words And I will bring you into the land of Israel in order to assure us that it was meant to take place in this world. The object to be attained thereby is that each one of us will, when God has brought him back to life, make mention of the fact that it is he that was alive and died and was then resurrected. That is the import of His statement: And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves (Ezek. 37:13). The mention of the resurrection in the land of Palestine is then repeated by Him a second time in order to confirm for us the thought that it is to take place in this world, as He says: And I will put My spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I will place you in your own land; and ye shall know that I the Lord have spoken, and performed it, saith the Lord (Ezek. 37:14)…Next let me state that I find that Daniel was informed by our Lord about what was to come to pass at the end of the time in forty-seven verses. Among these there is one verse that speaks of what was to transpire at the end of the rule of the Persians; that is to say, the [very] first. Thirteen of these verses again deal with the history of the kingdom of the Greeks, i.e., beginning with [the words]: And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will (Dan. 11:3), and extending up to But he that cometh against him shall do according to his own will (Dan. 11:16). Twenty other verses dwell on the history of the empire of the Romans, i.e., beginning with [the words]: But he that cometh against him shall do according to his own will, and extending up to And the king shall do according to his will (Dan. 11:36). Ten further verses constitute the history of the dominion of the Arabs, i.e., beginning with [the words]: And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself up to And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince (Dan. 12:1). The last three verses, finally, deal with the subject of the redemption. Now one of these last three verses declares: And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to reproaches (Dan. 12:2). Note that it says specifically: And many of them that sleep, not All of them that sleep in the dust of the earth, because All of them that sleep in the dust of the earth would have implied that all the sons of Adam were included, whereas this promise was valid for the children of Israel only. That is why it says many. Furthermore the statement: Some to everlasting life, and some… does not mean that some of those that are resurrected are destined for reward and some for punishment, since no one will be resurrected at the time of the redemption who is subject to punishment. It means rather, by division of the statement, that those that will awake will do so to everlasting life, whereas those that will not awake are destined for reproaches and everlasting abhorrence. For all the virtuous and penitent persons will be alive and there will remain only the godless and whoever died impenitent, and all that at the time of the redemption.”[539]

“Anyone that does not profess the belief in the resurrection of the dead in this world will not be resurrected together with the totality of the Jewish nation at the time of the redemption. That is the import of the dictum of our sages: Since he does not believe in the resurrection of the dead, therefore he shall have no portion in it, because in all His dealings the Holy one, Blessed Be He, metes out measure for measure. For it has been said: ‘Then the captain on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God and said: Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof. (II Kings 7:2)’ (Sanh. Qoa).”[540]

“If someone were to ask now and say, ‘Whom will those who are destined to be resurrected include?’ our answer would be that it will embrace the entire Jewish nation, the virtuous thereof as well as whoever died repentant. This may be inferred from the statement of Scripture: And I will cause you to come up out of your graves, O My people (Ezek. 37:12). Anyone, therefore, to whom the designation of My people could be applied would be included in this promise. Now I do actually find that the virtuous are called My people. Thus Scripture says: And to say unto Zion: ’Thou are My people’ (Isa. 51:16). Of the sinful, again, the impenitent are not called My people. This is borne out by the statement of Scripture: For ye are not My people (Hos. 1:9). The penitent among them, on the other hand, are called My people, as Scripture says: And I will say to them that were not My people: ‘Thou art my people’ (Hos 2:25).”[541]

“Should someone ask, again, whether the members of their families and their kinsmen would recognize the resurrected and whether they would recognize each other… the rank and file will have to be distinguishable so that the difference between the former and the latter may become evident. Besides, Scripture has definitely stated that every man will be attached to his tribe, as is explained in the chapter of the book of Ezekiel beginning with the words Now these are the names of the tribes (Ezek 48:1)… Should the question be asked now as to whether persons afflicted with a blemish will be resurrected with their blemish still attaching to them or whether they will be cured thereof, we would reply that they will be cured. This is borne out by the statement of our forebears to the effect that They will rise from their graves with their blemish attached to them and then be cured (Sanh. 91b)… Our reply, again, to the question that might be asked as to whether those to be resurrected will receive any reward for the services they will render to God at the time of the redemption is: ‘Yes,’ just as reason demand that those who are destined to live in the world of retribution receive reward for the services they will perform in the world to come.”[542]

“Our Master… has informed us… that He would deliver us from our present state, and gather our scattered fragments from the east and the west of the earth, and bring us to His holy place and cause us to dwell therein, so that we might be His choice and peculiar possession. Thus it is stated in Scripture: Thus said the Lord of hosts: Behold, I will save My people from the east country, and from the west country; and I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, etc. (Zech. 8:7-8).”[543]

“Concerning the necessary assumption of the perpetuity of the reward in the hereafter of the righteous and of the punishment of the sinful… let it be assumed that the duration of the reward of the righteous was set at one thousand years. It could possibly be said [in that event] that certain people would have no desire for the reward on account of it diminutive measure. A similar pretext might be offered in the case of two thousand or three thousand years. In fact, for whatever is limited in extent, reason could find another measurement exceeding it. If, however, their reward were to be made unlimited and unending and their well-being would never cease, there would be no excuse left that anyone could give… just as it is necessary for God to use the strongest stimulant to arouse in men the desire to do good, so must He employ the strongest deterrent to keep them from doing evil. For if the deterrent used by Him were to consist of the threat of torments lasting a hundred or two hundred years, and men would not be distrained thereby from sinning, it might be said by someone that, if God had made it last a thousand years, they would have been frightened by it. Similarly, if the punishment were to be fixed for a period of two thousand years, one might say that if God had made it last a myriad, men would have been terrified thereby. That is why God made the torment of the hereafter limitless, employing the strongest possible deterrent, that leaves no loophole for anyone… the nature of a person’s reward will be dependent upon whether he presents one or ten or one hundred or one thousand good deed, except that it will be eternal in duration… Likewise will the extent of a person’s punishment vary according to whether he presents one or ten or a hundred or a thousand evil deeds, except that, whatever the intensity of the punishment may be, it will be everlasting… So far as the nonbelievers and the polytheists are concerned, their fate has been clearly described in the declaration of Scripture: And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have rebelled against Me; for their worm shall not die (Isa. 66:24). As far as the unregenerate perpetrators of grave sins, they are the group for whom extirpation or death at the hand of the court has been prescribed. The consequence of their being cut off from this world is to be cut off also from among the righteous in the world to come by reason of their failure to repent… Should someone ask, however, on what ground they are pardoned, seeing that no repentance of them has taken place, we would answer: ‘It is not our basic assumption that these individuals are charged solely with lesser transgressions? That in itself is proof that they have guarded against sins of grave character.’”[544]

By way of summary, ben Joseph clearly adheres to the doctrine of the resurrection and eternal accountability for temporal behavior. His belief in the resurrection rests heavily on Isaiah 26, Ezekiel 37 and Daniel 12 – all excellent references. Many other references, however, seems forced, smacking of “text management.” He seems to dispute the claim of Charles that Judaism abandoned her eschatology in reaction to the church. I have the impression that ben Joseph borrowed heavily from the Pseudepigrapha and the New Testament, without acknowledging it. His argument for eternal accountability from the Old Testament seems less convincing than his arguments for the resurrection. The “righteous” go to heaven and the “ungodly” suffer eternal damnation, but he does not distinguish between actual righteousness and imputed righteousness. I can find no reference to his discussing imputation or the basis by which God can allow the sinner access to heaven without violating His justice. He seems to argue for a works-righteousness.

Maimonides, one of the more famous Jewish scholars of the Middle Ages, wrote a controversial work, Maqala, in 1190-91 A.D. Commenting on the resurrection, he said, “And so it appears to me from these verses that the individuals, whose souls will return to their bodies, will eat, drink, marry and procreate, and then die after enjoying that very long span of life characteristic of the Messianic era.”[545] After the Messianic era, and after these people have died once again, their souls return to God. Regarding retribution, Maimonides says, “Sometimes, He punishes only in this world, and sometimes only in the world to come, sometimes in both… God is righteous in all His ways, He punishes the sinner according to his sin, and rewards the pious according to his righteousness.”[546]


Beginning with the next issue we will look at the New Testament teaching on the subject of eternal hope.

Eager for the day of the resurrection,

November 2009

Eternal Hope
Part 36


When we arrive in the New Testament we discover a new atmosphere. The various fragments of eschatology found in earlier writings come together in a comprehensive, harmonious whole characterized by the following:
1 – Messiah does not fulfill expectations set forth in Old Testament prophecy. Instead of establishing an earthly kingdom, He becomes a sacrifice for sin.
2 – Membership in His kingdom requires individual commitment rather than corporate membership; being a citizen of Israel is no longer adequate. “For the Messiah now assumes a position undreamt of in the past, and membership of the kingdom is constituted, firstly and predominatingly, through personal relationship to its divine Head… in the teaching of Christ and of Christianity the synthesis of the eschatologies of the race and of the individual has at last been fully and finally achieved.”[547]
3 – In the writings of the prophets from the Babylonian captivity forward there begins a shift from emphasizing the nation to the importance of the individual. In the New Testament the break is complete; Jesus speaks pessimistically of the nation while giving hope to the individual.
4 – As the writers of the Old Testament begin emphasizing the importance of the individual, they teach that a person must be of pure character to find acceptance with God. This emphasis on a works-righteousness is carried forward through the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, and into the Synoptic Gospels. Although you find traces of salvation by grace in John’s gospel, you don’t find it emphasized until the epistles, and then almost exclusively in Paul’s letters.
5 – With the emergence of salvation by grace, works became the basis for determining the quality of heaven’s rewards rather than the ground for being saved.
6 – With the individual receiving rewards in heaven based on his works, the blessing accrued from national membership ceased to play a role in his life. Paul, in Romans 11, argues for the continuity of God’s commitment to the nation, but for all practical purposes, it played no role in how the individual believer lived his life. To rectify what it perceived to be unhealthy individualism, the church argued that as an institution it became heir of God’s commitment to the nation of Israel. Salvation could no longer be considered an individual matter; there was no salvation outside the church.
7 – The New Testament sees the Messianic kingdom, promised by the Old Testament prophets, lasting only 1000 years and ending in failure.[548] No longer is a reconstituted earth adequate; hence, not a Messianic kingdom, but heaven itself, becomes the hope of the believer.

Reflections on the Gospel of Matthew

Jesus gives us our first clue that we will be dealing with individuals, not just the nation, with the words: “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.”[549] John the Baptist preaches, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”[550] Thus, when Jesus references the kingdom of heaven in His Sermon on the Mount, the audience would naturally think of a physical kingdom Messiah came to establish – fulfilling Old Testament promises. It would not be eschatological in the minds of the listeners, as it is in our thinking today – for them it was a present reality rather than a future hope. Furthermore, it probably emphasized God’s commitment to the nation vis-à-vis the individual. Thus, throughout the gospels, and especially the synoptics, you find running concurrently both an emphasis on the nation and the individual. Not until Jesus sensed the nation rejecting Him[551] did He begin to emphasize the individual at the expense of the nation.

Note what we glean from the “Sermon on the Mount.” In Matthew 5:8 people will see God; verse 12 people will go to heaven. As far as I can tell, this is the first reference in Scripture to people going to heaven. The way Jesus makes the comment leads me to think that this was common knowledge among the Jews. From where did the idea come, if not from the Pseudepigrapha? The Baptist talks about God burning the chaff “with unquenchable fire.” [552] In Matthew 5:22, 29 Jesus talks about “Gehenna fire.” In 1Samuel 28 Saul goes to the Witch of Endor and she calls Samuel back from the dead. Samuel rebuked Saul for disturbing him (v. 15), and tells Saul that on the morrow he and his sons will visit him (v. 19). Samuel has the appearance of an old man (v. 14), and there is no indication that the abode of Samuel was either bad or particularly good. Evidently, it was Sheol, although the text does use that word. Not until you get to the Intertestamentary times do you find Sheol as hell. As far as I can tell, Matthew 6:19-20 is the first instance in Scripture where the follower of God is told to invest in the eternal rather than the temporal. Matthew 7:13-14 deals with following the path to life vis-à-vis destruction; the eternal may be assumed, but it is not mentioned. At this point we still don’t know if the kingdom of heaven pertains to heaven or the Messianic kingdom on earth.

Jesus, commenting on the faith of the centurion, said that Gentiles would “sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.” [553] Evidently, when Jesus preached the coming of the kingdom, He did introduce an eschatological dimension to it. Interesting, we don’t have a record of the content of that message.

Jesus says, “Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgment, than for that city.”[554] This is the first instance, of which I am aware in Scripture, where God says that He will, in the future, judge a city that no longer exists. In Matthew 12:41-42 we find the eternal in Jesus preaching judgment. Thus far the eternal is more to be feared than anticipated. Judgment occupies most of what Jesus says on the subject. He also says, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell… Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.”[555] Jesus includes this in His instructions to the twelve as He sends them out to minister. We “fear” in the direction of our hope. Jesus tells us to fear God, and to the degree we obey Him, we lose our fear of the world. If, in our fear of the world, we deny Christ, He will deny knowing us at the Day of Judgment.

Beginning in Matthew 13 Jesus teaches in parables for the first time. When asked why, He says He does not want the people to know “the secrets of the kingdom of heaven.”[556] Evidently, in preaching the kingdom of heaven, Jesus did not tell them all there was to know. As He gives other parables, we learn that a person enters because he is righteous, and the unrighteous are “thrown into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.”[557]

After revealing to the disciples that He is Christ, Matthew says, “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.”[558] From the response of the disciples in John 13-16, they did not allow His words to have their way.

Our Lord asks, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Jesus says that because we are eternal, our souls are of greater value than the sum of the world’s wealth. He then warns, “For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done.”[559] The Law of the Harvest: what a man sows in this life, he reaps in the life to come; the judgment of God is a judgment of man’s deeds. In Matthew 16:24-28 Jesus talks about how this life influences eternity. The Savior warns, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”[560] Jesus makes this reference to their need to “turn, change.” In Matthew 18:7-9 Jesus talks about it being better to enter life maimed than be thrown into eternal fire. In Matthew 19:16 a man comes to Jesus asking how he can obtain eternal life. Throughout these passages people talk about life after death as though there is a general understanding of what it entails.

In His parables, Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like…” But He never tells us what the kingdom of heaven is. In Matthew 20:18 Jesus again tells them that He will go to Jerusalem to die at the hands of the chief priests and scribes.

“Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.”[561] In this, the conclusion of Jesus’ parable of two sons, He teaches that sinners enter His kingdom before the religious leaders, because the sinners repent and believe. “Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.”[562] In this parable of the wedding feast (found only in Matthew), Jesus teaches that unless certain requirements are met, people will be expelled from His feast. The “outcast” was called, but God refused to choose him due to his inadequate preparation.

Jesus says, “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in… Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?”[563] In this pronouncing of judgment upon the religious leaders, Jesus tells us that they not only go to hell, but they keep people from going to heaven.[564]


Again, we will break before finishing Matthew, picking up the remaining material in the next issue.

In fear of His judgment,

January 2010

Eternal Hope
Part 37

We find the use of the word “hope” three times in the Gospels: Matthew 12:21: “And in his name shall the Gentiles hope.” Luke 6:34: “And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? even sinners lend to sinners, to receive again as much.” John 5:45: “Think not that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, on whom ye have set your hope.” With the possible exception of Matthew 12:21, Jesus does not use this word in an eschatological sense. Jesus’ presence was a realized eschatology; fellowshipping with Him, they did not need to hope in His return. It was only after He ascended that they needed a hope of His return.

Continued Reflections on the Gospel of Matthew

In material found only in Matthew 24:43 – 25:46, Jesus continues teaching about the end of the age with a series of parables: The Faithful Servant and the Evil servant,[565] Ten Virgins,[566] Pounds,[567] and Sheep and Goats.[568] Note in the outline of events listed above (also found in Matthew 24:1-31), Jesus tells His followers that they can anticipate His return, but in the parable of the Ten Virgins He says they cannot anticipate the time of His return. Evidently, we can discern the times but not the exact time of His appearing.

From this point on, Jesus does not discuss anything pertaining to an eternal hope, with the exception of His saying, during the institution of the Lord’s Supper, “Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”[569] During His trial before the high priest, He said, “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”[570]

The last parable, dealing with the sheep and goats, ends with “and they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”[571] Earlier in this chapter, in the Parable of the Foolish Virgins, Jesus teaches the importance of being selfish (don’t share the oil), the desire to negotiate (foolish virgins wanted bridegroom to reconsider), and God’s unwillingness to reconsider His decision. No room for grace in this parable.

Jesus again tells the disciples that He will fulfill Scripture – “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”[572]

“And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.”[573] This commentary by Matthew takes place as Jesus dies on the cross, before His resurrection.[574]

When on trial for His life, the masses cry, “His blood be on us and on our children.”[575] What kind of mind-set would be required for a person to make that kind of statement? How can a person ever judge with that kind of confidence? Certainly nothing in the Bible warrants it.

Reflections on the Gospel of Mark

Speaking to the crowd, Jesus said, “And he said to them, ‘Take heed what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. For to him who has will more be given; and from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.’”[576] In this, a passage paralleling Matthew 13, Jesus says that we reap in eternity what we sow in this life.

In a statement, paralleling Matthew 16 and Luke 9, Jesus says, “For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? For what can a man give in return for his life? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of man also be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”[577] In words reminiscent of the Matthew 5 presentation of the “Sermon on the Mount,” He says, “And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire… And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell… And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.”[578] Jesus emphasizes the importance of eternal life and the need to hope in heaven rather than hell. Matthew adds to the words of Jesus, “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.”[579]

“For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day.”[580] This appears to be the third time Jesus references His death. Mark says, “But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.”[581] Matthew, commenting on this same episode says, “And they were exceeding sorry,”[582] while Luke reports, “But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, that they should not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.”[583] Evidently, God did not want them to make the connection between Jesus’ death and their need for propitiation. When Jesus heard the Scribe agree with Him that loving God is the most important command, He affirmed the Scribe with these words: “And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.”[584] Jesus does not tell him what else he needs to get to heaven.

Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”[585] In Matthew’s account of this, He says “kingdom of heaven.” Note that Jesus refers to the “kingdom” as both a present reality and a future event. A person’s future entrance into the kingdom of God is dependent upon his correct attitude toward the present kingdom of God. You can see this dual understanding of the kingdom throughout the Synoptics.[586]

At the end of Jesus public ministry, He gives His followers eternal hope with these words: “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows… Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death… For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days… For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect… But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.”[587] Jesus lists the events preceding the end of the age when He returns. In a parallel account Jesus says the days of Noah characterize the end times.[588]

“Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.”[589] Jesus accuses His disciples of “unbelief and hardness of heart” because they refused to believe the witness of those who saw the resurrected Christ. How do you determine the line between unacceptable unbelief and healthy skepticism? “So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.”[590] This is the last time the disciples saw Jesus prior to their death. So too, it is the last reference in the Synoptics to an eternal hope.


It seems to me that in the Synoptics Jesus emphasizes the role man plays in his relationship to God rather than role God takes in initiating a relationship with man. Grace tends to be muted, and when you find it, more often than not you will see it by implication rather than explication. I corresponded with Darrell Bock, a professor from Dallas Theological Seminary, and, in part, he said: “I disagree with the assessment that grace is in John, but not in the Synoptics. Jesus’ ministry and the theological supposition of his outreach to sinners is grace throughout. Luke’s theme of the basis for reaching out to sinners is grounded in faith and forgiveness (Luke 7:36-50). You argue it is implied; I think it is more fundamental– the examples in use fit the period of the Jewish audience, but they exemplify grace. Even more to the point is Jesus’ great commission in Matthew 28:18-20, where Jesus tells the disciples to make disciples by ‘teaching them to obey ALL that I have commanded you.’ Texts like the Sermon on the Mount– one of five blocks of teaching in Matthew must be in view here. So the teaching of obedience is a crucial part of the gospel portrait. It is grounded in the RESPONSE to Jesus’ offer of grace, but it is a key part of the total mission of the church to instruct with a view to encouraging the body to draw on the Spirit, who will lead them into the proper response.” So you can see, not all agree with me on this point. I leave it to you to decide as you read on through my notes.

Grateful for His grace,

March 2010

Dear Co-laborer:

Eternal Hope
Part 38

My objective in this study is to explore the Scriptural teaching on an eternal hope, and how/when it came into existence. We see traces of it in the Apocrypha, clearly in the Pseudepigrapha (but much of it was written during the NT era), and emphasized in the ministry of Jesus. Scholars speculate that God began to reveal it to the Essene community. We are now seeking to look at what the NT teaches on this before some concluding remarks.

Reflections on the Gospel of Luke

This proclamation follows Jesus’ miracle of providing fish: “When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”[591] Although Peter calls himself a sinner, nowhere that I am aware of does Jesus call the disciples sinners or breakers of the law (with, of course, the exception of Judas the betrayer). Also, when the Savior says, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,”[592] He never discusses the basis by which a just God can forgive the sinner without violating His justice. In the house of Simon the Pharisee, a sinful woman washes the feet of Jesus with her tears, wipes them with her hair, and anoints them with oil, and Jesus responds with these words, “Thy sins are forgiven.”[593] The woman does not ask Jesus for forgiveness. Note, this is the second time Jesus claims to forgive sin,[594] and He makes no reference to His propitious death as the basis for being able to do it.

“For I say unto you, among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”[595] In Jesus’ response to the people after He assured John’s disciples that He is the Christ, I am not sure if He refers to the present kingdom or to an eschatological hope.

When you study the life of Christ from a synoptic perspective, this appears to be the fourth reference to Jesus death: “When the days drew near for him to be received up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.”[596] The word “received up” means, “to take or receive up” as in the resurrection or ascension. Only in Luke will you find this reference.[597]

Jesus sends the seventy out ministering, and when they return, Jesus gives this comment after hearing their report: “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.”[598] Later, “a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”[599] Jesus answered him by giving the parable of the Good Samaritan. Evidently, the importance of preparing for life after death occupied the thinking of this lawyer.

“The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here… Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.”[600] Jesus’ solemn warning suggests that hell will not be the same for everyone, and is similar to the judgment pronounced in Luke 10:12-15; Jesus does not say that the generations of Solomon and Jonah go to heaven. Rather, the present generation has more light, and thus less excuse, than they.[601]

“And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear (phobia): Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.”[602] Because God has the power to send people to hell, He alone should be feared. Jesus continues, telling the multitudes not to fear the temporal. Many, if not most, evangelical Christians that I have met, believe the opposite; they argue that believers should not fear God – respect Him, yes, but have a phobia of Him, definitely not.

“And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”[603] In most of this material Jesus teaches accountability, and although He doesn’t specifically say “eternal” accountability, the context seems to suggest it. Whatever else a person accrues from increased resources, he accrues increased accountability in the Day of Judgment.[604]

In a passage paralleling Matthew 7, Jesus says, “Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.”[605] In both passages Jesus teaches that many who have assurance of salvation will not gain entrance into the kingdom of heaven.

“And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.”[606] In this, the conclusion of the parable of the Prodigal Son, the father assures the elder son that he will not re-divide the inheritance with the prodigal, suggesting that forgiveness in God’s economy does not eliminate consequences. In another story Jesus says, “And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.”[607] This, the conclusion of the parable of the Unjust Steward, teaches that the believer should invest his temporal resources in such a way that they will accrue eternal benefit. The unrighteous steward, representing the unbeliever, is wiser than those professing faith in Christ, in that he invested in what he thought was the most important, while Christ’s followers invest in what they know is least important – unrighteous mammon. At another time Jesus says, “But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.”[608] In this, the story of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus teaches that what you sow in this life you will reap in the life after death.

Speaking of the end times, Jesus says, “For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day. But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation… I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left.”[609] Jesus, teaching what to expect at the time of His return, says that people will behave as in the days of Noah and Lot; they will live disregarding the promise of His return.

“For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again. And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.”[610] In this, the fifth time Jesus tells the disciples of Him imminent death, God keeps the disciples from understanding what He says.[611]

“For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him. But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.”[612] In this, the conclusion of Jesus’ parable on the mina (found only in Luke), He teaches that in eternity the rich get richer and the poor become poorer. Each servant receives one mina from his master and one returns 10 minas, receiving as a result 10 cities, and another returns 5 minas, resulting in his obtaining 5 cities. In this, Jesus teaches that He rewards in the kingdom of heaven on the basis of faithfulness to opportunity.

“And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.”[613] The Sadducees, due to Greek influence, denied the resurrection of the dead. Seeking to trap Jesus, they asked about marriage in heaven. From Jesus’ answer we learn that the union of a man and a woman in marriage does not exist in heaven. Note the reference to a person’s works being strategic in obtaining eternal life: “But they which shall be accounted worthy…”

While on the cross, “Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, to day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”[614] Jesus gave this promise to one of the thieves suffering with Him on the cross.[615]

“He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered his words.”[616] The angel spoke these words to the women who came to anoint Jesus’ body on Sunday morning. They “remembered His words,” but obviously His words, when first spoken, didn’t make sense. Otherwise, they would have expected to find an empty tomb rather than a body needing anointing for burial.

“Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”[617] Jesus spoke these words to those walking with Him on the road to Emmaus. Evidently, the Old Testament contains adequate material for people to understand the mission of Christ. With the possible exception of Isaiah 53 (which the Hebrew people thought applied to the nation), I have no idea where Jesus took the disciples in making this explanation.

In our next issue we will look at the Gospel of John.

His … Yours,

November 2010

Eternal Hope
Part 39


In the last three issues of the Dear Co-laborer letter I sought to address my concerns regarding the direction professing Christians have taken in regard to the expectations of Christ. Before continuing with the question of eternal hope in the Old Testament, allow me to give a brief summary of where we had been prior to this digression.

With the theme of eternal hope playing such a significant part in the lives of New Testament believers, I find it startling to discover that we have no record of God giving the individual an eternal hope in the Old Testament. We do see a gradual shift from the temporal to the eternal; the nation to the individual; and action to motive, particularly as we move to the exilic and post-exilic prophets. For example, God says through Daniel, “Many of those that sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to eternal life, others to reproaches, to everlasting abhorrence.”[618] This promise of the resurrection was never given to any particular individual, however.

In the Synoptics, although Jesus ministered to the masses through acts of healing, most of His dialogue was either with the Scribes, Pharisees, or Sadducees – or with His disciples. In either case, His words are void of grace; they deal with God’s rejection and judgment. Only when we come to John’s gospel do we encounter a different tone. Most of the material in John’s gospel cannot be found in the other three gospels; particularly in John Jesus talks about election. Because election and grace are the head and tail of the same coin, you also see in John an emphasis on grace not found in the Synoptics. For example, Jesus says, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”[619] The believer finds his security in the fact that God chose him rather than vice versa.

Reflections on the Gospel of John

“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”[620] These words of John the Baptist are the clearest explanation of Jesus mission that I can find in any of the gospels.[621]

“And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven… That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”[622] Jesus tells Nicodemus that to see (v. 3) and enter (v. 5) the kingdom of God,[623] he must be born again. The Savior eliminates all doubt as to what He means when He introduces us to the concept of eternal life.

“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”[624] This appears to be the continuation of John the Baptist’s declaration concerning Jesus. By way of contrast, Jesus promises the woman at Jacob’s well, “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”[625] Jesus contrasts the water He offers with that which one drinks from Jacob’s well.

“And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.”[626] When the disciples meet Jesus at Jacob’s well, He tells them it is a time for reaping. The one who preaches the gospel receives an “eternal wage;” what you sow and reap in this life, when properly done, accrues eternal benefit.

“For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son… Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live… Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”[627] Jesus rebukes the religious leaders in Jerusalem because they condemned Him for healing on the Sabbath. You receive a mixed message from Jesus’ words in this passage: On the one hand He says, “The Son quickeneth… He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life,” but later He says, “they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” The “good” must refer to “believe” and “evil” to unbelief.[628]

“Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed… And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day…[629] Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life… I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever… Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day… he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.”[630] Jesus says this in His talk on the Bread of Life; we labor for the eternal, not the temporal, but we have everlasting life in the first place because we believe.[631] Believing means partaking of Christ, the Bread of Life.

“Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.”[632] Peter understands that eternal life can only be found in the words of Christ.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.”[633] Earlier we saw that the resurrection is a present reality: “Whosoever liveth and believeth on me, shall never die.”[634] Those who have eternal life have been resurrected in the sense that it is a fait accompli.

At the close of Jesus’ message on the Good Shepherd, He makes this claim: “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father… My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”[635] Although Jesus doesn’t specifically mention eternal life in the earlier verses, He makes Himself clear later when the Jews challenged Him.

At the resurrection of Lazarus Jesus speaks to his sister: John 11:24-26: “Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”[636] Although Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, this was not to eternal life; Lazarus had to physically die once again.

When Jesus rebukes Judas for criticizing Mary, He makes reference to His death: “Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.”[637] I don’t find in John’s gospel Jesus seeking to prepare the disciples for His death, as found in the Synoptics.

Jesus speaks these words after His triumphal entry, before celebrating the Passover Feast with His disciples: “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal… For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting.”[638] Evidently, even in John’s gospel, where he emphasizes grace, believing is not enough; you must “hate” your life in this world in order to obtain eternal life.

“Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God.”[639] In this, John’s prologue to the Upper Room Discourse, we see the hope of eternal life in the certainty of Jesus regarding His fate.

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also… Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.”[640] In these words of comfort spoken by Jesus, the disciples gain an assurance of spending eternity with Him. “I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.”[641] Throughout these closing words of Jesus’ discourse, He talks about the Holy Spirit replacing Him when He goes to the Father. In all of this material, an eternal hope is implied.

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”[642] In this, His high priestly prayer, Jesus defines eternal life: knowing God. “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee[643]… Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.”[644] Among the things for which Jesus prays is that His “own” join Him in an eternity with God.

“Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.”[645] When Jesus made this statement to Pilate, He implied that His kingdom is heaven; He did not come to rule over the institutions of man.

“Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.”[646] These words Jesus spoke to Mary Magdalene, the first, according to John’s gospel, to see the resurrected Christ.

“But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”[647] John tells us that the purpose of his gospel is that people “might have life through his name,” that is, an eternal hope.

Grateful for His life,

January, 2011

Eternal Hope
Part 40


Because individual salvation is muted in the Old Testament and emphasized in the epistles, Jesus acts as a bridge by highlighting the individual’s need for grace. You are led to believe that apart from Moses’ violation of God’s law not to strike the rock, and David’s murder and adultery, people had a relationship with God because they kept the Law. I know of no place in the Old Testament where God actually forgives an individual. (The one exception may be when Nathan tells David: “And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.”[648] Even here, such a promise from God seems out of place and unjust; it certainly stands in contrast to how God deals with other individuals in the Old Testament.)

As noted earlier in this study, God begins to emphasize the individual during the time of Judah’s exile in Babylon: “But if a wicked man turns away from all his sins which he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness which he has done he shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?”[649] Although the word “forgive” is not used, God clearly suggests that the man’s sin is forgiven, but only because the man changed his ways and began to live according to God’s Law. God says nothing about substitution or propitiation. Note also that God threatens the sinner with death without specifying what kind of death. If temporal death, and the context seem to suggest this, then the Law of the Harvest does apply to the temporal.

In the Gospels Jesus affirms the importance of keeping the Law, and although He was rejected by the nation (cf. Matthew 12), He talks to people about how they can be saved (something the Old Testament writers did not do). But Jesus gives little hope to people who violate the Law, as evidenced by: “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”[650] The word for “iniquity” means “law breaker.” Thus, Jesus stands as a bridge between the OT and the NT epistles.

Observations Regarding Kingdom of God/Kingdom of Heaven

Before leaving the Gospels, let’s take a moment to look at the Kingdom of God/Kingdom of Heaven. When God promised Abraham the land in Genesis 12 and 15, what did He have in mind? Historically, the Jews have viewed the land as part of their covenant with God; God give the land to His people in perpetuity. The absence of an eternal promise given to the individual may have resulted in their concluding that the temporal was eternal, i.e., the individual will not live eternally, but the nation will eternally live on the land. However they thought, it included Messiah one day establishing His Kingdom on earth.

In the Gospels the phrase “Kingdom of Heaven” appears only in Matthew. The phrase “Kingdom of God” appears in all four gospels, but only twice in John.[651] According to Jesus, it is the community in which the divine will is to be realized on earth as it already exists in heaven. An individual can enter it only by total submission to the authority of God. He may be motivated by self-interest, but he must surrender his lust for autonomy to the authority of Christ.

The Kingdom of God/Kingdom of Heaven has the following uses:

1 – The OT prophets saw the Kingdom of God as something future, even though they lived in the days of the Theocratic Kingdom: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of [his] government and peace [there shall be] no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”[652]

God speaking through Amos says: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit [them]; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God.”[653]

2 – The Kingdom predicted in the OT was not in existence in the days of John the Baptist, for he preached that it was “nigh at hand.”

Matthew tells us: “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand… the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”[654]

The Jews believed that John’s prophecy was for them. The gospels record no controversy between the Jews, on the one hand, and Jesus and John, on the other, over their understanding of the Kingdom of God. It is interesting that the Jewish rulers thought that if they acknowledged Jesus as their King, the Romans would destroy their nation.[655] Evidently they looked for the kingdom, but believed that for it to arrive Rome had to be dealt with first – which is the argument of the prophecy of Daniel and “the feet of clay mixed with iron.”

3 – Christ preached that the Kingdom of God is both a present reality and a future hope: “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”[656] I have to receive it now if I am to receive it in the future.

4 – Christ preached that the Kingdom of God is “within you.”
Luke records: “And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”[657]

5 – God’s sovereign rule is operational, whether people acknowledge it or not, as
King Darius attests upon Daniel’s escaping with his life from the lion’s den: “I make a decree, that in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he [is] the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom [that] which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion [shall be even] unto the end.”[658]

So also, in a vision given Daniel regarding the last days: “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, [one] like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion [is] an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom [that] which shall not be destroyed.”[659]

6 – Jesus said that the Kingdom of God would be taken from Israel and given to another ethne or ethnic people: “Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.”[660]

7 – Christ’ present kingdom is different from the millennial kingdom as the latter is yet to be realized. In His explanation of the Parable of the Wheat and Tares, Jesus said, “The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity.”[661] It will not be a pure kingdom until the return of Christ and He establishes His millennial kingdom.

“And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and [I saw] the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received [his] mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This [is] the first resurrection. Blessed and holy [is] he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”[662] (This is a future event, since it occurs after the return of Christ and the resurrection of the dead.)

It is for this kingdom that Jesus tells us to pray: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as [it is] in heaven.”[663] And it is this kingdom that we are to seek: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”[664]

If these teachings of Jesus apply to the church, and I think most would agree that they do, then it is a different kingdom from that described by the Old Testament prophets.

8 – Paul teaches that God’s use of the church does not abrogate His Old Testament promises to Israel. When he concludes his analogy of the “wild” and “natural branches” of the olive tree, he says: “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:”[665]


In my study of the Kingdom of God/Heaven, although it was not exhaustive, I could not find any distinction between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven; the writers of the Synoptic Gospels seem to use the terms interchangeably.[666]

Eager for His Kingdom,

September 2011

Eternal Hope
Part 41


In the last three issues of the Dear Co-laborer letter I sought to address my concerns regarding what I called “Drifting Towards Dumbness.” Before continuing with the question of eternal hope in the Old Testament, allow me to give a brief summary of where we had been prior to this digression.

With the theme of eternal hope playing such a significant part in the lives of New Testament believers, I find it startling to discover that we have no record of God giving the individual an eternal hope in the Old Testament. We do see a gradual shift from the temporal to the eternal, the nation to the individual, and action to motive, particularly as we move to the exilic and post-exilic prophets. For example, God says through Daniel, “Many of those that sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to eternal life, others to reproaches, to everlasting abhorrence.”[667] This promise of the resurrection was never given to any particular individual, however.

In the Synoptics, although Jesus ministered to the masses through acts of healing, most of His dialogue was either with the Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, or with His disciples. His words are, for the most part, void of grace; they deal with God’s rejection and judgment. Only when we come to John’s gospel do we encounter a different tone. Most of the material in John’s gospel cannot be found in the other three gospels, and in John Jesus talks about election. Because election and grace are the head and tail of the same coin, you also see in John an emphasis on grace not found in the Synoptics. For example, Jesus says, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”[668] The believer finds his security in the fact that God chose him rather than vice versa.

We will now return to an examination of the remaining portions of the New Testament to note the authors’ references to an eternal hope. The Acts of the Apostles, written by Luke, doesn’t differ appreciably from what we find in the exilic and post-exilic prophets.

Reflections on Acts

Peter preaches the first sermons in Acts, and does not differ appreciably from the message of Ezekiel:[669] God demands righteousness, justice, and purity, and the people must repent to receive the forgiveness of God. Peter adds that God raised Jesus from the dead and those repenting must be baptized in His name – a message not all that different from John the Baptist’s. Peter’s message at Pentecost referenced the unjust crucifixion of Christ, but made no reference to Christ’s propitiation as the basis of God’s forgiveness and only mentioned forgiveness of sins in response to questions and not in the context of Christ’s death:

“Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’” And Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him.”[670]å

Note the following from this first recorded sermon after the Ascension of Christ:
1 – Peter seems to have a boldness and ability to articulate that he did not manifest in the gospels.
2 – He has a grasp of the OT Scriptures that appears to be new, quoting from Joel and the Psalms.
3 – He does not separate the two advents of Christ when referring to Joel, indicating that he anticipated the imminent return of Christ; he believes that all of Joel is either fulfilled or about to be fulfilled.
4 – The people are called upon to believe in Jesus and be baptized in His name for the forgiveness of sin, but as noted above, I see no link between the death of Christ and God forgiving sin. Peter makes no reference to the theology of the cross.
5 – “Many wonders and signs were done through the apostles,” indicating that they were an impetus to believing.
6 – They “had all things in common, and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all as any had need.” Did they do this because they anticipated the immediate return of Christ? Did this add to the problem of their dependence upon the generosity of the Gentile churches, as Augustine seems to suggest?

After healing the lame man in Acts 3, Peter preached to the crowd, “But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.”[671] Once again, note that this message (minus the reference to Christ) does not differ from Ezekiel’s message.

After Peter was released from the Jewish leaders, the people prayed essentially the same thing as Peter had preached.[672] In Acts 5, when Peter was re-arrested, he testified to the council: “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”[673] Nothing in this material suggests that Jesus’ death, as a propitiation for sin was the necessary ground for God’s forgiveness.

Stephen’s long sermon to the Council in Acts 7 does not mention repentance or forgiveness; the present generation of leaders merely repeated the mistakes of their fathers who unjustly opposed God.

Peter told Simon, who practiced magic and wanted to buy the power of the Holy Spirit, “Repent therefore of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.”[674]

When Jesus revealed Himself to Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus road, He said nothing about sin and forgiveness.

Peter, when preaching to Cornelius’ household said, “To Him all the prophets bear witness that every one who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.”[675]

Paul preached in the synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia, “Let it be known to you therefore, brethren, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him every one that believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.”[676]

At the Jerusalem Council Peter acknowledged that his message did not differ from Paul’s, “But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”[677]

In Philippi, after Paul and Silas were thrown in prison, they testified to the jailer that if he wished to be saved he must “believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”[678]

When in Athens, Paul preached at the Areopagus, “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all men by raising him from the dead.”[679]

Paul, when returning from his third missionary journey, reminded the Ephesian elders that he, “testif(ied) both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance to God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.”[680] After arriving in Jerusalem, Paul sought to testify to the Jews in the Temple, but he wasn’t able to make any reference to their need to repent or Jesus’ propitious death as the means whereby God can forgive.

Finally, in the last recorded sermon in Acts, Paul preached before King Agrippa, “…to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me…. That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.”[681]

From this analysis of Acts we discover that although the apostles introduced Christ as the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises, their message regarding the need to repent in order to receive God’s forgiveness, did not differ all that much from that of Ezekiel and other Old Testament exilic and post-exilic prophets. We are not introduced to the theology of the Cross until the New Testament epistles. As far as I can tell the apostles in Acts also do not emphasize an eternal hope,[682] which, as we have already discovered, is so ubiquitous in the teaching of the Lord Jesus. The only reference to “eternal” in Acts comes from Luke’s comment, “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.”[683] “Heaven” is never used as the place the saints go after death. The word “hope,” connected to the idea of the believer’s eternal hope, appears twice in reference to the resurrection from the dead.[684]


We began this series by calling attention to the importance of hope; without hope people despair and lose their motivation for living. But like most things in life, hope carries with it the sober realization that the object of your hope determines how you live. If you hope in God, then you must meet His expectations in order to reap the benefits of your relationship with Him. If you hope in heaven you acknowledge the reality of hell. Hope is defined as future anticipation and people take their risks (faith) in the direction of their hope. An eternal hope means you live as the slave of Jesus Christ, acknowledging that: a) – you cannot be certain that God exists or that He “rewards them that diligently seek him,”[685]and b) – if He does exist, He will hold you accountable for the way you live.

Yours for a life of obedience,

November 2011

Eternal Hope
Part 42


We are indebted to the Apostle Paul for many things, not the least of which is the theology of the Christian Church. Paul, more than any other biblical writer, lays emphasis on grace – that a person is justified before God without reference to his works. Of Paul’s epistles, most agree that Romans stands at the pinnacle of his writings.

Reflections on Romans

Paul addresses an eternal hope for the first time in the context of judgment: “To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life.”[686] Note that he seems to say a person can obtain eternal life by good works, something the whole of his epistle refutes.

Paul references the resurrection with the words, “as it is written, ‘I have made you the father of many nations’ — in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.” [687] This resurrection does not lead to eternal life, but rather to the continuation of temporal life – as illustrated by what would have happened if Abraham had killed Isaac and God raised him from the dead. God raised Jesus from the dead: “But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification,”[688] but Paul does not connect this with an eternal hope.

Romans ties Christ’s death with the sinner’s forgiveness, implying that we have, as a result, eternal hope: “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.”[689] Paul connects the two later: “so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”[690] And again, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”[691]

In the great chapter on assurance of salvation, Paul says, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you.”[692] And again, “it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him… we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies… And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.”[693]

Returning to the certainty of judgment, Paul says, “But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.’ So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God.”[694] With these words, you don’t so much gain an eternal hope as the certainty of eternal accountability.

Reflections on 1 Corinthians

Paul begins this letter by contrasting the wisdom of God with the wisdom of the world. In so doing, he implies both an eternal hope and the propitious death of Christ for sinners: “So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ… But we preach Christ crucified…”[695]

Not only can the believer legitimately hope in a life after death, Paul warns that the quality of that life depends on how he lives his present life: “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”[696] Temporal behavior has eternal consequences, and heaven will not be of the same quality for all believers. Those reading Paul’s epistle ought to take care to make application, for “the Lord (will) come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.” [697]

The believer participates in the Lord’s Supper as a testimony to the fact that he anticipates Christ’s return: “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.”[698]

For Paul, understanding the judgment of God plays an important role in preparing for eternity. Some sins, when willfully committed, deprive an individual of any assurance of heaven: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.”[699]

Because this life prepares a person for eternity, the stakes are so high that Paul encourages, but does not command, people to remain celibate so they can concentrate on accruing eternal profit.[700] Paul himself lived so focused: “For I would that all men were even as myself… Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”[701] Again, Paul admonishes his readers to emulate him in this regard: “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”[702]

When the believer leaves this life for an eternity with God, he carries with him the need to walk by faith, maintain hope, and practice love: “So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”[703] Loves is the greatest of the three, for it, unlike faith and hope, is an attribute of God.

When Paul addresses the issue of the resurrection, he articulates an eternal hope; the certainty of the resurrection guarantees eternal life. Note three consequences if there is no resurrection: First, “For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised.” Christ remains in His grave. Second, “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” Without the resurrection of Christ, the believer loses all hope of heaven. Third, “Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.”[704] Death ends everything, and this means that for those who die having lived a short or pain-filled life, life is a sick joke.

In this epistle Paul outlines the order of events when God terminates history as we know it: “Behold, I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”[705] “But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he (Christ) shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he (Christ) shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he (Christ) must reign, till he (Father) hath put all enemies under his (Christ’s) feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he (Father) hath put all things under his (Christ’s) feet. But when he (Father) saith all things are put under him, (Christ) it is manifest that he (Father) is excepted, which did put all things under him (Christ). And when all things shall be subdued unto him (Christ), then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him (Father) that put all things under him (Christ), that God may be all in all.”[706] Before Christ’s ascension, the Father reigned, as evidenced by Jesus seeking only the will of His Father. After the ascension the Father rules through Christ. When the end comes, Christ will deliver up this administrative kingdom, and God will again be all in all. When Christ ascended, all power in heaven and earth was given to Him, His not having possessed it before. He retains this power until His enemies are put under His feet. Then Christ delivers it to the Father. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord… Maranatha.”[707]


Throughout Scripture God tests His people, usually for the purpose of helping them define their hope. As Paul says in Romans 5:3-5: “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” You can see these various tests as illustrated by:
1 – At Kadesh Barnea, did Israel hope in the deliverance of God, or the strength of her own arm?
2 – When Israel was sent into Babylon for 70 years, God promised to return them to their land. Many returned, but many stayed in Babylon, probably for financial reasons. Was their hope in what God promised, or in what they were able to temporally accrue by their wits?
3 – God uses prosperity in the lives of the NT saints to test them regarding their hope by asking them to be generous.
4 – God uses adversity in the lives of the NT saints to test them regarding their hope by asking them to be grateful.
5 – God postpones His return to test the people regarding their hope of heaven. The believer pleads with God for His imminent return as an expression of his eternal hope.
6 – God gives many the opportunity to retire from their vocation, to test them regarding their understanding of their purpose.

In Christ,

January 2012

Eternal Hope
Part 43


Although faith has always been the only condition for salvation, submission to God and obeying His commands is the paramount indication that you have met the condition. A heart for obedience is the only sure evidence of regeneration.

Reflections on 2 Corinthians

Paul says, “But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us.”[708] What God will do at the resurrection, He in fact does (in an analogous manner) each day. So too, as God delivers from death day-by-day, He will also deliver from the grave at His coming. The phrase “day of our Lord Jesus”[709] connotes, as in other letters, Paul’s eternal hope. This eternal hope permeates his whole epistle, as evidenced by statements like: “For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?”[710]

The resurrection forms the foundation for Paul’s future hope: “Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you…. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”[711] This launches Paul into an explanation of what happens to the believer after death. In essence, he says we can serve God in this life in our bodies but absent from the Lord, in the presence of the Lord absent our bodies, and third, with our resurrected bodies in the presence of the Lord. In whichever state, we seek to please Christ, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.”[712]

Paul ties the propitious death of Christ with imputation: “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation… For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”[713] God imputes Christ’s righteousness to the believer, and the believer’s sin to Christ. Paul uses this double imputation seen at the end of chapter five as motivation for the Corinthians being generous with their resources: “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.”[714]

Finally, as Paul brings his letter to a close, he returns to his theme of living life in anticipation of eternity and defends his apostleship by reminding them that his weakness merely emulates the weakness of Christ. Paul takes upon his ministry the weakness of Christ: “For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we are weak in him, but in dealing with you we shall live with him by the power of God.”[715]

Reflections on Galatians

This epistle makes a unique contribution to our understanding of God’s promise of an eternal hope to the individual, in that it is a polemic surrounding the question of how people in the Old Testament were saved. Paul begins by calling attention to the resurrection: “Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.”[716] He ties this with the fact that Christ died for our sins: “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:”[717] The phrase, “that He might deliver us from this present evil world,” may reference our eternal hope. Paul resurfaces the idea of Christ dying for our sins: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.”[718] Here we note a clear reference to substitution; Christ paid the penalty for our sins by dying on the cross.

Twice Paul references our eternal hope, one negative: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness… of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God,”[719] and one positive: “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”[720]

Galatians 3:19-4:7 defends his gospel against the Judaizing heresy, explaining why God gave the Law, as well as His purpose for it during the 2000 or so years it was in force for Israel. He describes this situation as “being in custody,” (3:23), and “shut up to faith” (3:22,23). These expressions refer to the period when the Jews lived under the Mosaic Law, which condemned them, incited them to sin more, but contained no hope of rectifying their sin problem with God. Paul makes it clear that it was God’s plan all along for the nation to be in this situation until Jesus’ substitutionary death.

The absence of an offer to the individual of an eternal hope in the Old Testament was intentional. Evidently, God deliberately let His chosen people, the Jewish nation, live under the condemnation of the Mosaic Law with no hope of eternal life to highlight the greatness of the redemption offered in Jesus. This may seem callous, but God did this in order to emphasize the gloriousness of the salvation Jesus made available at the time of His death. A relationship with God requires believing whatever He reveals, as was the case with Abraham; God did save a number of Hebrews without their knowing they were saved, simply because they believed Him. Only in the New Testament do we find out their faith, as demonstrated by their response to God, was credited as righteousness.

Reflections on Ephesians

In his letter to the Ephesian church, Paul calls attention to Christ’s redemption of the sinner: “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”[721] So also: “For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us.”[722]

Three times in Eph 1 Paul references our inheritance: “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance…ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession…that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.”[723] Although Paul does not mention an eternal hope, it seems to me that he implies one when talking about the believer’s inheritance, as indicated by: “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”[724] Note that Paul says that redemption is a future event: “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”[725] It seems to me that this implies a future, i.e., an eternal hope – as does: “For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”[726] The whole tenor of the epistle directs the believer to live this life in preparation for heaven.

Reflections on Philippians

Note the use of the phrase “Day of Christ:” “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ…That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ…Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.”[727] This phrase seems to point to an eternal hope.

An eternal hope is implied in: “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better.”[728] Paul clearly states that he is motivated by an eternal hope with the words: “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”[729] And again, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”[730] Paul encourages them to accrue eternal gain through acts of generosity: “Not that I seek the gift; but I seek the fruit which increases to your credit.”[731]

Although an eternal hope seems to form the ethos for all Paul says in this epistle, he seems to be more interested in encouraging them to godly living than generating this hope. At no place, that I can find, does Paul tie our eternal hope with the propitious death of Christ in his epistle to the Philippians.

Reflections on Colossians

Paul begins his epistle with an encouraging word of eternal hope: “For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel.”[732] He next connects this hope with the propitious work of Christ: “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins… And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”[733]

It seems to me when Paul mentions that we were dead in sins Christ made us alive, this has to refer to an eternal hope, for if it is applicable only in the temporal, then how do our lives differ from the non-believer? In Ephesians Paul says, “…even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).”[734] In Colossians he makes the same point: “And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions.”[735]

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”[736] In this beautiful passage Paul argues that Christ assures the believer that not only will he join Christ in glory, he is currently positioned in an otherworldly union with Christ. Thus he is assured that, “Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”[737]

In Christ,

March 2012

Eternal Hope
Part 44


Paul says, “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body… Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it”[738] Christ died for His church. Because Christ does not need to die for an institution (such as Israel) any more than He has to die for our organization or institution, the “church” refers to individuals, not an institution.

Reflections on 1 Thessalonians

Commending the Thessalonians, Paul says that they “wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.”[739] We note that Paul talks about the resurrection and the fact that Christ delivers us from wrath, but does not specifically say Jesus died to make this possible through His propitious death.

In numerous places in this epistle Paul implies that he anticipates the return of Christ during his lifetime: [740] “But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord.”[741] In this famous passage dealing with the “rapture,” Paul uses “asleep” as a euphemism for death, as indicated in v. 16 when he says “the dead in Christ.” We have an eternal hope because Christ will come for His own.

Reflections on 2 Thessalonians

Paul places a heavy emphasis on eschatology in this short epistle: “Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling…”[742]

In 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 Paul comments on what we should expect just prior to Christ’s return, outlining some of the activities of Antichrist: “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”[743] Antichrist places his throne in the Temple, seeking to exalt himself above God.

Evidently, some refused to work, believing the return of Christ to be imminent (cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13).

Reflections on 1 Timothy

Paul, after commenting on the fact that he is the “foremost sinner” because he persecuted the church, says: “But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost (sinner), Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience for an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.”[744] Later Paul affirms the resurrection of the dead by saying of our Lord that He was “taken up in glory.”[745]

In chapter 4 he compares physical and spiritual exercise, saying: “For bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”[746]

In his admonition to Timothy, Paul says: “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses,”[747] implying that eternal life is not a gift, but something Timothy must earn. Paul goes on to say that Jesus “alone has immortality,”[748] which would seem to refute the idea of an eternal hope. But he goes on to say that the rich should be generous in order that they may lay “up a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life which is life indeed.”[749]

I can find no reference to Jesus being the propitiation for our sins, but overall the tone of the epistle seems to be that we should be motivated by an eternal hope.

Reflections on 2 Timothy

The hope of immortality and eternal life with Christ permeates this short letter. You find the hope of eternal life in Paul’s opening statement: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life which is in Christ Jesus.”[750] He follows by saying: “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”[751]

Paul assumes the resurrection of the dead, saying: “Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel… It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him.”[752] He believes that the resurrection is future, for he rebukes “Hymenaeus and Philetus who have swerved from the truth by holding that the resurrection is past already. They are upsetting the faith of some.”[753]

Confident in his eternal hope, Paul closes by saying: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing… And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”[754]

In 2Timothy, as in so much of the New Testament literature, Paul makes no reference to the propitious death of Christ as the ground of our eternal hope, no statement such as, “Christ died for our sins” as in 1Corinthians 15:3.[755]

Reflections on Titus

Paul introduces his epistle with the words, “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour.”[756] The RSV and NASB translate “before the world began” as “ages ago.” The Greek word “aeon” aivwni,ou, means “eternity, never ending.” This means that although God determined in His eternal council that eternal life will be given to His own, it wasn’t until “in due times manifested his word through preaching” that He revealed it. This leaves unanswered the question, when was the Word preached? My study of this subject seems to suggest, not until the beginning of the New Testament.

Statements like, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works,”[757] and “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life,”[758] support this. Note that Paul emphasizes an eternal hope, tells us that we obtain it through faith, and that God provides it through Jesus Christ. Paul does not spell out the propitious work of Christ in obtaining our eternal life, although he infers it with the words, “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity” (cf. above).

Reflections on Philemon

Apart from v. 15 where we see “for ever,” I can find no reference to an eternal hope, and even this verse speaks more to the temporal than the eternal. Paul does not preach the gospel, although people through the centuries have noticed the close parallel to what Paul asks of Philemon and what Jesus did for us. Paul makes no reference to the propitious death of Christ.


The ground or reason why God can bring the sinner to heaven has always been the propitious death of Christ. Our Savior’s death answers the question, “How can a just and holy God take the sinner to heaven without violating His justice and making heaven dirty?” The condition the individual must meet in order to access this gift of life, however, may differ from age to age.

The condition of Israel’s salvation was faith, but faith in God’s temporal deliverance. God constantly calls upon His people to believe in the One who delivered Israel from the bondage of Egypt. I know of no place in the Old Testament where God tells the individual that he must believe that God will be the propitiation for his sin. The individual must believe whatever God says, but God is not required to reveal to that individual that Christ died for his sins in order for him to be saved.

Grateful for His grace,

May, 2012

Eternal Hope
Part 45


I ask myself, if I strip from the Bible the Pauline epistles, would I find enough evidence to conclude that people are justified by faith apart from the works of the law? Most Christians believe this to be true. But what, exactly, does it mean? The Bible says of Abraham, “And he believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him for righteousness.”[759] When the people of Nineveh heard Jonah’s message of judgment, “the people of Nineveh believed God; and they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.”[760] Consequently, God refrained from destroying them. When the people asked Jesus, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” He said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”[761]

Believing one another is the least common denominator in any relationship. For example, a young man invites a girl to dinner and says, “I would really like to get to know you.” When she begins to share her heart, he responds, “I don’t believe you.” I think you will agree that she will close her heart and mind, not allowing him to know her any better. You cannot call a person a liar and have a relationship with him. It may be that someone will tell you something that you don’t believe, but you don’t verbalize your doubts, for you know that would create a tense, nasty scene.

So too, God establishes believing as the sine quo none of a person having a relationship with Him; He will not reveal Himself to one who does not believe Him. Your relationship with God differs from all other relationships in that He knows when/if, in your heart, you do not believe; you cannot hide it from Him. If a person says, “I believe Jesus died for my sins and I have received Him into my life, but I do not believe in the virgin birth of Christ,” that individual has no biblical right to claim that he has a relationship with God. You cannot pick and chose from what God reveals; you cannot believe what you wish to believe, discarding the rest – and still claim to know Him as your Savior.

The author of Hebrews warns his readers concerning the failure of Israel to enter the Promised Land, “And to whom did he swear that they should never enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.”[762] Notice how he connects obedience and believing. Jesus connects obedience with loving Him: “He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”[763] The Apostle John ties obedience with knowing God: “He who says ‘I know him’ but disobeys his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”[764] Believing, knowing, loving, and obeying God are all inextricably linked to one another; you cannot separate them.

As noted in our analysis of the Old Testament, the biblical authors never address the issue of an individual’s eternal hope, but they do call attention to the fact that the individual must obey God in order to have a temporal hope. Daniel, the first to specifically mention the resurrection, does not indicate who will be resurrected to life vis-à-vis “to reproaches and everlasting abhorrence.”[765] The various authors of the Pseudepigrapha, when addressing the individual’s eternal hope, always connect it to living righteously. The Synoptic Gospels do not discuss grace, and even in John’s Gospel, when Jesus emphasizes believing, He never seeks to isolate it from obedience. Only the Apostle Paul, of all the biblical writers, separates faith/believing from works of righteousness as the sole condition for salvation: “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”[766] “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.”[767] “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”[768]

Paul identifies faith/believing as the irreducible minimum for a relationship with God; it is the sole condition man must meet to be saved. But to divorce faith from obedience requires ignoring every other biblical writer, including our Lord Jesus Himself. Obedience may not be a condition for salvation, but it surely is the primary indicator in testing if a person is, in fact, saved.

Note the words of our Lord Jesus: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”[769] Paul says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”[770] These people have met the condition laid out by Paul; they call Jesus, Lord. Not only so, they prophesy, cast out demons, and do wonderful works – all in His name. They don’t try to do these things; they in fact do them. Still, Jesus says, “I never knew you.” How terrible for the all-knowing God of the universe to say, “I never knew you.” Jesus says He refuses to acknowledge people who break the commandments. There is no necessary relationship between God using a person and His approving of that person. God can use a man to save the souls of thousands, while sending him to hell.

It is my impression, and I may be wrong, that evangelical Christianity has, on the whole, divorced faith from practice. People feel they can break or ignore God’s commandments without putting their soul in jeopardy, simply because they have believed. A heart for obedience is the only sure test of regeneration. God offers eternal hope only to those who break themselves on the “Stone of stumbling and Rock of offence,”[771] and live in perpetual brokenness and dependence upon Him. To think otherwise is self-delusion.

Reflections on Hebrews

A cursory reading of this book reveals the centrality of Christ. We see a references to His propitious death in passages such as: “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”[772] Again he says: “that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”[773] And again: “to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”[774] The need for Christ’s substitutionary death can be seen in the fact that the sacrifice of Yom Kippur could only cover “the sins of the people committed in ignorance.”[775] By His sacrifice, Christ has “obtained eternal redemption for us.”[776] With the words, “And for this cause he is the mediator of the New Testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance,”[777] the author combines Christ’s propitious death with the gaining of an eternal inheritance. And again, “but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”[778] Hebrews drives home the point of Christ’s sacrificial death: “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.”[779]

When the author mentions: “…not laying again the foundation of… resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment,”[780] I sense that an eternal hope forms the ethos of all he says; he assumes it and makes it the basis for the superiority of Christ vis-à-vis the Law which established the Old Testament system. Thus, it seems to me, that he assumes an eternal hope when he says, “…by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”[781] You are motivated to endure hardship “knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.”[782]

Hebrews calls attention to the transfiguration of Enoch.[783] Abraham “looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”[784] The Patriarchs had in common that “they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.”[785] Moses identified with the Hebrew people, suffering the animosity of Egypt because “he considered abuse suffered for the Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he looked to the reward.”[786] The J.B. Phillips translation says, “he looked steadily at the ultimate, not the immediate, reward.” The Old Testament saints willingly suffered at the hands of God’s opponents “that they might obtain a better resurrection.”[787]

Comments such as, “to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven,”[788] and “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come,”[789] imply an eternal hope without explicitly stating it.


With the exception of King David, I know of no place in the Old Testament where an individual wanted a relationship with God and saw his sin as a barrier. For this reason, the sacrificial system instituted by God, both before and after Sinai, appeared adequate. When Hebrews argues that the follower of God needs something new and far superior to the Levitical Priesthood, it seems to me that he implies an eternal hope. For why would Christ have to die if temporal reconciliation with God was the only objective? As you know, only Hebrews refers to Jesus as our Priest, and therefore would it not be true that the superiority of His priesthood resides in our obtaining through Him an eternal relationship with God? If so, then the Priesthood of Christ after the order of Melchisedec implies an eternal hope.

His … Yours,

July, 2012

Eternal Hope
Part 46


If you ask, did God’s people in the Old Testament have an eternal hope, a cursory reading of Hebrews clearly answers, yes. If you ask, can you find expression of this hope in the Old Testament accounts of the saints, you have to conclude, no. If we were with Moses on the Exodus, and I asked you whether the Patriarchs had an eternal hope, where would you lead me to assure us that they did?

Reflections on James

The five chapters of this book contain many references to an eternal hope, including “Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.”[790] “Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?”[791] “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”[792] Interestingly, as far as I can tell, James contains no reference to the propitious death of Christ and the need to trust in His death. James has very little doctrine, majoring on application of the Law. You would not conclude from a study of James that the New Testament believer is freed from the Mosaic Law.

Reflections on 1 Peter

In his first epistle, Peter begins by reminding them of their eternal hope: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”[793] The “last times” he defines as “the appearing of Jesus Christ,”[794] promising that his readers will “receive the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”[795] Evidently, God revealed to the Old Testament prophets “the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.”[796]

In light of this, Peter urges, “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”[797] An eternal hope should influence how a believer lives his life. The reason, says Peter, resides in the fact that there are eternal consequences for temporal behavior: “And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear.”[798] The word for “fear” is “phobia;” in light of judgement, the believer should have a phobia of God. Peter says that even the non-Christian must “give account to Him that is ready to judge the living and the dead.”[799]

“For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away.”[800] Thus, we must live for Christ, “who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.”[801] Those motivated by an eternal hope live “as strangers and pilgrims, abstain(ing) from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.”[802]

Peter clearly teaches that the propitious death of Christ provides the believer with legitimate ground for having an eternal hope: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”[803] And again, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.”[804]

The contrast between the lives of those motivated as Peter teaches, and the motives of those living by the values of the world, is so stark that those outside of Christ will want an explanation. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”[805]

Suffering is an important theme in this epistle: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or a wrongdoer, or a mischief-maker; yet if one suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but under that name let him glorify God. For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? And ‘If the righteous man is scarcely saved, where will the impious and sinner appear?’ Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will do right and entrust their souls to a faithful Creator.”[806] Suffering for righteousness adds to the believer’s eternal reward; sinning brings reproach at the Judgment of God. Remembering this aids the believer in his endeavor to respond biblically when enduring tribulation. “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”[807]

Probably as much as any book of the Bible, 1 Peter admonishes the believer to make his hope for eternal gain the basis for living a righteous life. Thus, he closes his epistle with the benediction: “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”[808]

Reflections on 2 Peter

The apostle writes anticipating that he will die prior to the return of Christ, a reality that none of the New Testament writers thought possible. Thus, he warns against apostasy, calling his readers to remember.[809] As a matter of fact, evil men mocking the return of the Lord, “Where is the promise of His coming,” [810] attests to Christ’s imminent return. Similar to Jude, Peter calls to our remembrance that God will judge the world – the only place in the New Testament where we are told that God will destroy the world with fire: “Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men… But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”[811]

So also, Peter connects the conflagration at the end of the age with our hope of heaven: “Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”[812]

Peter also couples the need for remembering with maintaining our eternal hope: “For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.”[813] Note also how he connects eternal hope with judgment: “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;… The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished… and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; and shall receive the reward of unrighteousness…”[814]

I can find no specific reference to Christ being the substitutionary sacrifice for the believer’s sin.

Finally, Peter seems to suggest that when Christ returns depends, in part on the saints living godly lives: “ Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be kindled and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire!?”[815]


Christ functions as the means whereby the individual obtains an imputed righteousness, and thus his relationship to God is determined by his relationship to Christ. Since Christ is the Mediator of God’s righteousness and love to man, it logically follows that He is also the Mediator of God’s judgment; man is either justified or condemned, depending on his relationship to Christ. “All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”[816] That Jesus presides over God’s judgment of the world is obvious, as we have already seen from passages such as, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”[817] And “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son.”[818]

Yours for a life of obedience,

September 2012

Eternal Hope
Part 47


The following words of Jesus call attention to His judging people on the basis of their works: “And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward… The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear… For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works… And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.”[819]

Either the individual experiences these consequences in this life or in the life to come. (The Bible teaches, as illustrated in the book of Job, that people do not necessarily reap what they sow in this life.) If in the life to come, they are either the requirement for entering heaven, or the basis for determining the quality of eternity. Since the New Testament clearly teaches that God grants salvation as a gift of His grace, we must conclude that when Jesus talks about being judged by our works, He has in mind the quality of our eternity in heaven.

Our eternal hope, therefore, includes not only the promise of heaven, but also the promise that our works in this life will influence the quality of our life after death.

Reflections on 1 John

This epistle begins similarly to the Gospel of John; we are introduced to the Word, “For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us… he that doeth the will of God abideth forever… And this is the promise that He hath promised us, even eternal life… Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”[820]

In this we see that John connects eternal life with the Son; those who abide in Christ live eternally with Christ: “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God… we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”[821]

So too, those that live lives of unrighteousness live eternally without Christ: “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.”[822] If a person wishes to be confident at the Day of Judgment, he must love his brother: “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”[823]

The substitutionary death of Christ, although mute in his gospel, finds prominence in his first epistle: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin… And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”[824] Again, John says, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”[825]

John sees Jesus’ return as imminent. Many antichrists[826] may sow their heretical messages, but “…little children, abide in Him; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.”[827]

Reflections on 2 John

This short epistle is devoted to the importance of walking in the truth. (He uses the word “truth” four times in the first three verses.) Thus, he says, “For the truth’s sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever,”[828] that is, the truth of which John speaks is that Truth which shall abide as we move from this life to the life to come. The degree to which the believer walks in the Truth, he gains an eternal reward: “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.”[829]

As far as I can tell, he makes no reference to the propitious death of Christ as payment for our sins.

Reflections on 3 John

Like 2 John, the author emphasizes the importance of truth, referencing it four times in the first four verses, and a total of six times in the letter. I can find no reference to an eternal hope, or to the propitious death of Christ.

Reflections on Jude

A book of judgment, this short epistle written by Jesus’ brother quite remarkably quotes from Jewish apocalyptic literature as though it qualifies as a genuine product of Old Testament revelation. Quoting 1Enoch from the Pseudepigrapha he says: “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”[830] Note how closely this parallels Enoch: “And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones to execute judgement upon all, and to destroy all the ungodly: And to convict all flesh of all the works of their ungodliness which they have ungodly committed, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”[831]

Similarly, Jude quotes from the Assumption of Moses in verse 9: “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.” The Assumption of Moses, supposedly part of the Testament of Moses, only exists in fragments, mostly takes from Clement of Alexandria. “Michael was commissioned to bury Moses. Satan opposed the burial on the ground (a) that he was the lord of matter and that accordingly the body should be rightfully handed over to him; (b) that Moses was a murderer, having slain the Egyptian. Michael having rebutted Satan’s accusations proceeded to charge Satan with having instigated the serpent to tempt Eve. To the first charge, Michael rejoins, ‘The Lord rebuke thee, for it was God’s spirit which created the world and all mankind.’ Finally, all opposition having been overcome, the assumption took place in the presence of Joshua and Caleb, and in a very peculiar way. A two-fold presentation of Moses appeared: one was Moses in company with angels, the other was the dead body of Moses, being buried in the recesses of the mountains.”[832] I have quoted from these two sources because I find it intriguing that Jude cites from non-canonical material.

When Jude makes reference to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, he makes an eternal application from a temporal event – i.e., he tells us that God destroyed these two cities “Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”[833] He does the same thing when referencing Cain, Balaam, and Korah (v. 11).

Jude makes no reference that I can find, to the propitious death of Christ for sin. In closing, he urges his readers to “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”[834]


As we begin to wind down this study on eternal hope, we have but one more book to analyze – Revelation. As we will note in the next issue, Revelation is the only apocalyptic book in the New Testament.

In Christ,

November 2012

Eternal Hope
Part 48


Paul Johnson in his History of the Jews says that the Jews of the 18th century had to decide whether the Torah defined their life, or whether it was merely part of their lives. If the latter, then the Jews would eventually be assimilated and lose their identity. If the former, they would always be marginalized and live in a ghetto – either physically or intellectually. Zionism and the return of Israel to the Promised Land solved their dilemma.

Christianity faces the same dilemma, with the difference that the gospel is trans-cultural; the individual does not have to change cultures in coming to Christ. The Torah influences a person’s culture, while the gospel influences a person’s values. The hope of the former is temporal, the latter eternal. Thus, the believer finds himself living with an eternal hope, causing him to be out of step with the rest of society. The Jew can be isolated by the Torah while embracing the values of the world – the very thing that caused them to be hated; they played the world’s game better than the Gentiles. Judaism lived alienated from all other cultures and thus created their own Jewish state in Palestine. The committed believer lives alienated from all cultures, and finds commonality only with those rare individuals that join him in embracing an eternal hope – irrespective of the culture from which these committed ones originate.

Reflections on Revelation

The only apocalyptic book in the New Testament, the author assumes that “the time is at hand”[835] when Christ will return, bringing to a close human history as we have known it.

Writing to the Seven Churches, John reminds them that believers look “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.”[836] Notice how he ties the death of Christ with our inheritance as “kings and priests unto God.” To each of the Seven Churches Christ gives to the “overcomer” promises that relate to the eternal – some by implication and some specific:

To Ephesus He promises, “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.”[837] To Smyrna Christ promises, “…be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life… He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.”[838] To Pergamos He promises, “…To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.”[839]

To Thyatira our Lord promises “…and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works… And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star.”[840]

Christ promises Sardis, “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.”[841] To Philadelphia the Lord promises, “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.”[842]

And finally, to Laodicea He promises, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”[843] Note that every encounter Jesus has with the Seven Churches, every judgement pronounced upon them, implies the return of Christ – e.g.: “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”[844] “Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.”[845] “Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.”[846]

Beginning with Revelation 4, John introduces his readers to the future, most of which transpires in heaven. Thus, Revelation 4-5 begins: “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.”[847] When an angel asks who is worthy to open the book sealed with seven seals, John discovers that “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.”[848] Only Jesus can open the book, for He redeemed God’s people with His blood.

Revelation 6-19 covers the seven year period of the Tribulation, “for the great day of His wrath is come…”[849] In the midst of the horror, we catch glimpses of our eternal hope: “And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?.. These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”[850] Again, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”[851] And again, “And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.”[852] Finally, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.”[853]

John devotes Revelation 20 to the Millennium, the rebellion of Satan, Gog, and Magog,[854] and to the Judgment of the Great White Throne: “…and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works… And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”[855]

Revelation 21-22 deals with the new heaven and earth. Note that the Jew – Gentile distinction remains.[856]

This last work of John does not dwell on the propitious death of Christ, although it forms the basis for all that takes place during the last days. Jesus’ death for our sins, however, does not annul eternal accountability, as seen in the above quotes. The angel instructs John, “Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”[857]


It seems to me that people face three maladies in life: purposelessness, pain and poverty – in that order. God often uses one or more of these to draw people to Himself. Thus, the secular mind sees the three as intrinsically evil, while the regenerate mind sees them as expressions of God’s grace.

Having said that, however, most find it difficult to keep this truth in focus. The plethora of references to an eternal hope in the New Testament, in general, and Revelation in particular, help in maintaining our bearing when the hurts of life come our way. God placed us in this life for one purpose only, to prepare us for an eternity with Him. Reviewing the myriad of references to our hope, while claiming the promises therein, will help us not to lose sight of why God has us living here on planet earth.

In the next issue we will summarize what we have learned on the subject of eternal hope, and bring this series to a close.

Eager for His early return,

January 2013

Eternal Hope
Part 49

This last issue on the subject of eternal hope will be musings or reflections on my study, with no logical progression of thought. In it I will endeavor to articulate why this is such a fascinating subject.

Final Reflections on Eternal Hope From the Old Testament

I can find no trace of salvific grace in the Old Testament. In thinking about this it seems that it is related to a lack of final judgment with eternal consequences. If there are no eternal consequences for temporal behavior, what do I need to be saved from?

More often than not, the generation that sins does not experience God’s judgment; His retribution comes upon the following generations. In many ways, this truth is axiomatic of life: Our descendants reap the consequences of how we live. We see this truth exemplified throughout the OT. The NT teaches that each individual will reap the consequences of his own behavior in the eternal.

As noted in issue 15 of this series, God commands the Levirate marriage; the widow of the deceased must become the wife of the deceased’s brother “that his name may not be blotted out of Israel.”[858] This practice seems to support the thesis that God did not want His people to have an eternal hope in the Old Testament, for why would one whose hope is heaven care about the perpetuation his name on earth? In Matthew 6:1-18 Jesus said that the desire for temporal recognition incurs negative consequences in eternity – the seeming opposite of the objective desired in a Levirate marriage.

The Law of the Harvest, when applied to Israel, was always temporal. (There can be no eternal accountability for institutions.) Writers, especially the Psalmist, promised that the nation would reap what it sows – temporally. Little is said about the individual. The book of Job teaches that the Law of the Harvest cannot be applied to the individual in the temporal. Psalm 73 may teach the same thing. With or without an eternal hope, when you expect justice in this life you despair. Throughout Scripture God insists that His people be just, but gives no indication that they can expect justice shown towards them.

God’s commitment to the nation of Israel was inviolate. Little emphasis was given on the eternal aspect of people’s relationship with God in the Old Testament, at least not until the latter period of Israel’s history when the prophets begin to deal with it.

By and large, you have the importance of the individual in the NT, the importance of the nation in the OT. When you hear people talking about sacrificing the individual for the common good, you know they have embraced an OT worldview.

Where in the OT do we find God saying that all people sin? When the concept of an eternal hope began to dawn in the minds of Hebrews, they naturally thought that it was “justification by works.” It is not until we come to the Pauline epistles that we learn that “all have sinned,” and that Jesus’ death was the necessary payment enabling God to be “just and the justifier” of those granted an eternal hope.

It seems that during the inter-testamentary period, when the Jews began to understand that God promised the individual an eternal hope, they logically concluded that it had to be on the bases of keeping the Law. Jesus seems to affirm this in Luke 10:25 – 28 when He suggested that the lawyer, if he kept the Law, could go to heaven.

If God had recorded an eternal promise to His people in the OT, the question raised by Paul in Romans 3:25-26 would have needed to be answered. For God to pronounce judgment on the sinner and then let some sinners have eternal life would be saying that people cannot trust God’s Word.

When this came into focus, for the first time people could understand the worth of the individual, and then only because God imputed to them a worth that they did not have intrinsically. The worth of the individual may be implied in the OT, but I know of no place where God affirms it.

Grace is counter-intuitive and election violates our sense of justice. Man’s addiction to autonomy is so acute that his eternal hope manifests itself in either a works-righteousness or thinking that because he is the object of grace he can ignore God’s commandments.

Besides craving autonomy, man does not like living under obligation and thus he easily deceives himself into believing that he somehow deserves a relationship with God. I am not sure of the various manifestations of this; it seems to be a combination of God obligating Himself to the creature because of creation, and man deserving eternal life because he is basically good.

The Synoptic Gospels seem to carry into the NT the OT motif of relating to God on the bases of works. Note how John’s gospel contrasts with the Synoptics: Believe is the condition for salvation in John rather than good works as frequently found in the Synoptics. John emphasizes grace to a degree not found in the Synoptics. Note also that in John you find an emphasis on election not found in the other gospels. Cf. e.g., John 6:44, 10:28-29, and 15:16. Grace and election are the head and tail of the same coin. In the Synoptics people ask for eternal life; in John no one initiates asking for it; Jesus offers it, as illustrated by the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. In John our Lord Jesus takes the initiative in performing miracles more often than not (as seen by Jesus going to the Pool of Bethesda in John 5), while in the Synoptics, people come to Jesus for help. The Synoptic writers encourage perseverance in prayer in a way John does not. In all of this, as a generality, in the Synoptics it is up to you; in John it is up to God.

In the Synoptics, we find a mixture of Jesus telling people it is what they do that determines whether or not they go to heaven, and His chiding the religious leaders that publicans and sinners will go to heaven before they do. In Luke 18:9-14 it is clear the Pharisee is viewed negatively, & the tax collector is viewed positively. In verse 13 the tax collector begs God for mercy. The word for “mercy” is the word for “propitiation.” “Lord be propitious to me a sinner.” God justified him, but does not reveal how this can be possible.

As John 13:1 indicates, Jesus elected to tie His death to the Passover feast rather than to Yom Kippur, or some other occasion where the sacrifice served as expiation for sin. The Passover sacrifice had nothing to do with sin; it commemorated God’s deliverance of Israel at the beginning of her national existence. Different from other sacrifices commanded by God in the Torah, it alone called for each family to perform a sacrifice, thus capturing the individual nature of Jesus’ propitious death. In the Old Testament God did not offer an eternal hope to individual people. For this reason, there existed no need for a Savior who would make it possible for God to be “just and the justified of him who believes.”[859] God did not design Yom Kippur, a national sacrifice, as expiation for individual sin. In any given year there were crimes that either the nation knew nothing about, or that the nation could not solve. Yom Kippur served as a covering of those sins that God’s presence might remain with Israel. It did not expiate the guilt of the one committing the crime. Willful sin resulted in the individual either being exiled or exterminated.

If the Old Testament saints had an individual eternal hope, you would think they would have expressed a heart for evangelism. I am not aware of any effort in the OT to bring pagans into the family of God. This began to change during the time of the Gospels as indicated by Jesus’ critical comment, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.”[860] By this time, however, people had begun to develop an eternal hope.

We note a greater emphasis on the stewardship of time in the New Testament vis-à-vis the Old Testament. (Compare John 9:4; 1Corinthians 7:29-31; Ephesians 5:16 with Proverbs 6:16, 13:4; Ecclesiastes 11:4, 9.) The Old Testament does not seem to place the importance on time that the New Testament does – possibly because of the temporal vis-à-vis eternal emphasis. In the Old Testament, people are not going anywhere; in the New Testament, they are preparing for eternity.

In the Old Testament God did not charge the nation Israel with any particular task; they were to faithfully follow God as defined in the Law, and keep themselves pure from the polluting influences of the surrounding nations. In the New Testament, God charges His individual followers to fulfill the Great Commission, going to these surrounding nations, as well as faithfully follow God as defined by the New Testament commands. Because the OT saint did what God wanted him to do, his life was as meaningful and purposeful as any NT saint. However, in the OT God did not tell the people their purpose for existence. Thus, Solomon says that life is vacuous. In the NT God connects the dots for the believer by telling him this life prepares him for eternity, and that he can best be prepared by investing in the lives of people.

As we pursue comfort, we run from stress and struggle. Dependence and repentance in the midst of struggles are the keys to a vital relationship to God; a godly hope is essential in staying the course, and pursuit of the Word is the key to our assurance of salvation.

How can a person say that he has an eternal hope if he does not daily pray for Christ’s return?

Eager for His return,


[1] Ephesians 1:18, RSV
[2] Colossians 1:5, KJV
[3] Genesis 13:15, JPS (Jewish Publication Society)
[4] Hebrews 11:16, RSV
[5] Micah 4:5
[6] Cf. Romans 11
[7] 1 Timothy 6:8, KJV
[8] Hebrews 11:10, KJV
[9] Genesis 2:17, JPS
[10] Genesis 3:24
[11] Sarna, Nahum M., The JPS Torah Commentary on Genesis, Nahum M. Sarna, general editor, The Jewish pu
[12] Levine, Baruch, The JPS Torah Commentary on Leviticus, Nahum M. Sarna, general editor, The Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia, 1989, pages 99-100.
[13] Leviticus 16:16, JPS
[14] Exodus 33:13, JPS
[15] Psalm 103:7, JPS
[16] James 1:22, KJV
[17] McClintock, John and Strong, James, general editors, Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, 10 volumes, “Immortality,” Baker, Grand Rapids, 1981.
[18] Cf. Leviticus 16:20-22
[19] Op Cit. Levine, Baruch, The JPS Torah Commentary on Leviticus, page 235.
[20] Milgrom, Jacob, The JPS Torah Commentary on Numbers, Nahum M. Sarna, general editor, The Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia, 1989, pages xxxix, xl.
[21] Exodus 34:6-7, JPS
[22] Numbers 14:33, JPS
[23] Exodus 34:9-10, JPS
[24] Leviticus 4:26, JPS
[25] Deuteronomy 3:26, JPS
[26] Numbers 12:12-13, JPS
[27] Joel 2:13-14, JPS
[28] E.g., his son dies, another son rapes a daughter, a son rebels forcing David to flee.
[29] Cf. Jeremiah 7:16
[30] Sarna, Nahum, General Editor, The JPS Torah Commentary, Milgrom, Jacob, Numbers, The Jewish Publication Society, New York, 1990, pp. 398-402
[31] Cf. Genesis 30:1ff.
[32] Cf. 1 Corinthians 7:34-38
[33] Cf., e.g., John 6:27, Matthew 6:19-20, Mark 8:36-37
[34] Isaiah 42:6-7, JPS
[35] Fishbane, Michael, Haftarot, The JPS Bible Commentary, The Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia, 2002, page 6.
[36] Micah 4:1-5, speaking of the time when God fulfills His promises to Israel, seems to support the idea that Israel will not be a missionary nation, concluding in v. 5: “Though all the peoples walk each in the names of its gods, we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever.”
[37] Ruth 1:15
[38] In Matthew 25:15 Jesus makes reference to the Scribes and Pharisees seeking proselytes, and Acts makes reference to them as well. But by this time an eternal hope was firmly established in the Jewish religion, a hope that seems to have waned when the church became Gentile and anti-Semitic.
[39] If I am not mistaken, the first appearance of Sheol is Genesis 37:35.
[40] Ibid, Sarna, Nahum, Genesis, p. 262
[41] Possible exceptions may be found in passages such as Deuteronomy 4:26-31.
[42] Joshua 5:1-12
[43] Joshua 2:10
[44] Leviticus 12:3
[45] Deuteronomy 9:28
[46] Hebrews 11:14-16, KJV
[47] James 2:19,KJV
[48] James 2:24, KJV
[49] James 2:17, KJV
[50] Hebrews 5:8, KJV
[51] Hebrews 11:32-40, KJV
[52] Daniel 3:17-18, JPS
[53] Judges 6:8-9
[54] 1 Chronicles 16:35-36
[55] 1 Chronicles 17:21 (emphasis mine)
[56] Joshua 24:32
[57] Genesis 33:19
[58] Genesis 15:18
[59] 1 Samuel 2:10 and 5:12
[60] 1 Samuel 2:6, JPS
[61] Cf. Exodus 22:18, KJV
[62] 1 Samuel 28:9, KJV
[63] 2 Samuel 1:19-27
[64] 2 Samuel 22:6, JPS
[65] God established with David an everlasting covenant, pertaining to his descendents rather than an eternity with God for David (cf. 2 Samuel 7:13, 23:5).
[66] Cf. Leviticus 20:10
[67] 2 Samuel 12:23, JPS
[68] 2 Samuel 22:22-25, JPS
[69] Cf. Psalm 34:18 and 51:17
[70] 1 Kings 2:2, 10, JPS
[71] 1 Kings 2:6, JPS
[72] The second reference is 1 Kings 2:9 where David counsels Solomon not to allow Shimei to die in peace.
[73] 1 Kings 6:12-13, JPS (Cf. also 1 Kings 9:4-5, 10:9)
[74] 1 Kings 8:46, JPS
[75] Before God destroyed the earth with a flood, the Bible says, “And the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).
[76] Cf., e.g., 1 Kings 17:17-24, 2 Kings 4:32-37
[77] 1 Kings 9:6-7, JPS
[78] 2 Kings 2:11, JPS
[79] Malachi 4:5, JPS
[80] 2 Kings 20:2-3, JPS
[81] Philippians 1:21, KJV
[82] Harris, R. Laird, editor, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Moody Press, Chicago, 1980, page 645
[83] Genesis 3:22, JPS
[84] Deuteronomy 32:40, JPS
[85] Job 7:16, RSV
[86] Psalm 22:6, RSV
[87] Psalm 49:9, RSV
[88] Zechariah 1:5, JPS
[89] Genesis 17:7, JPS
[90] Genesis 21:33, JPS
[91] Genesis 48:4, JPS
[92] Leviticus 16:34, JPS
[93] Deuteronomy 33:15, JPS
[94] Isaiah 33:14, JPS
[95] Isaiah 35:10, JPS
[96] Isaiah 45:17, JPS
[97] Jeremiah 23:40, JPS
[98] Habakkuk 3:6, JPS
[99] 1Chronicles 16:15-17, JPS
[100] Cf. 1 Chronicles 17:1-14
[101] 1Chronicles 28:9, JPS
[102] 1 Chronicles 29:15, NAS. I chose the NAS because, as best I can tell, the Hebrew word means “no hope” rather than “no abiding,” or as the JPS says, “nothing in prospect.”
[103] Cf. Ezra 7:6
[104] Ezra 3:11, JPS
[105] Ezra 9:12, JPS
[106] Ezra 10:2
[107] Nehemiah 2:3, JPS
[108] Nehemiah 9:5, JPS
[109] In Leviticus 6:1-7 God makes an exception for one who sins in a property matter and confesses before being discovered by another.
[110] Job 25:4 – 5
[111] Job 19:25-27, RSV
[112] Keil, C.F. and Delitzsch, F., Commentary on the Old Testament in Ten Volumes, William B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1976, vol. 4, pp. 354-357
[113] Job 14:14, JPS
[114] Op cit. Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary of the Old Testament, vol. 4, pp. 230-231
[115] Job 14:10, JPS
[116] The belief that a person will reap what he sows
[117] Job 7:9, NAS. Cf. also Job 10:21-22.
[118] Job 33:24-28, JPS
[119] Elihu uses the word again in Job 36:18; these are the only two times in Job.
[120] Job 5:20, JPS
[121] Job 6:23, JPS
[122] Cf., e.g., Psalm 6:5
[123] Note the discussion of this under Leviticus in the second issue of “Eternal Hope.”
[124] Milgrom, Jacob, The JPS Torah Commentary, Numbers, Sarna, Nahum M., General Editor, The Jewish Publication Society, New York, 1990, page xli.
[125] When Moses struck the rock instead of speaking to it, as commanded, God bared Moses from entering the land, but did not sever the relationship.
[126] Bainton, Roland H., The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century, The Beacon Press, Boston, 1956, page 28.
[127] Bede, A History of the English Church and People, Barnes and Noble, New York, 1993, p. 95.
[128] 1 John 5:11, KJV
[129] The Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, probably done in Alexandria, Egypt about 284-247 B.C.
[130] Op cit, Keil and Delitzsch, vol. 5, pp. 47-64
[131] You may email me at:, or fax: 619-599-5870.
[132] Psalm 6:5, RSV
[133] Psalm 16:10-11, RSV
[134] The word olam, often translated “everlasting” or “forever”, is considered in Part 7 of this series.
[135] Op cit, Charles, A Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life, page 72.
[136] Psalm 17:15, JPS
[137] Daniel 12:2-3
[138] Psalm 21:4-6, JPS
[139] Luke 24:27, RSV
[140] Romans 3:26, KJV
[141] James 2:19,KJV
[142] James 2:24, KJV
[143] James 2:17, KJV
[144] Hebrews 5:8, KJV
[145] Hebrews 11:32-40, KJV
[146] Daniel 3:17-18, JPS
[147] Romans 8:24-25, KJV
[148] Cf., e.g., 1Corinthinas 3:10-15, 2Corinthians 5:10, and Colossians 3:23-25
[149] My parenthesis
[150] Calvin, John, Institutes of the Christian Religion, The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, Book 3, Chapter 18, Section 6
[151] Hodge, Charles, Systematic Theology, Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1952, Vol. III, pages 244-245
[152] As noted in Part 6 of this series, nesah, olam, ad, and alam, all words referring to “forever, eternal, everlasting, etc.,” can refer to anything between remote time and perpetuity. No general word exits for time in Hebrew, nor for ideas like past, present, future, and eternity
[153] Psalm 37:18, 27-29, JPS
[154] Psalm 39:4, 13, JPS
[155] It is inconceivable to me that one of the New Testament Apostles would make such a statement.
[156] Cf. Psalm 37 above
[157] Psalm 41:12, JPS
[158] Psalm 49:4-9, JPS
[159] Verses 14-15, JPS
[160] Psalm 73:17-18, 24, JPS
[161] In Job 4:8 Eliphaz reflects the thinking of Job’s friends when he says, “According as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow mischief, reap the same.”
[162] Psalm 73:26-27, JPS
[163] Psalm 88:10-12, JPS
[164] Op cit, Laird, Harris, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, p. 858
[165] Psalm 116:15, JPS
[166] Psalm 139:8, JPS
[167] Psalm 103:4, JPS
[168] Proverbs 8:23, JPS – speaking of wisdoms’ part in creation
[169] Proverbs 10:25, JPS
[170] Proverbs 12:19, JPS
[171] Proverbs 21:28, JPS – nesah: NAS – forever; KJV – constantly; ASV – endure. Cf. footnote 152.
[172] Proverbs 27:24, JPS
[173] Proverbs 29:14, JPS
[174] Proverbs 15:11, JPS
[175] Op cit, Laird, p. 3
[176] Proverbs 15:24, JPS
[177] Proverbs 27:20, JPS
[178] Proverbs 30:15-16, JPS
[179] Proverbs 22:7, JPS
[180] Chesterton, G.K., Collected Works, Vol. 1, Heretics, Orthodoxy, The Blatchford Controversies, Ignatious Press, San Francisco, 1986, pages 59-60
[181] Philippians 1:21, KJV
[182] Ecclesiastes 3:11, JPS
[183] Ecclesiastes 6:6, RSV
[184] Ecclesiastes 9:1-6, JPS
[185] Ecclesiastes 7:14, JPS
[186] Ecclesiastes 12:5, 7, 14
[187] Isaiah 2:4, JPS
[188] Isaiah 65:25, JPS
[189] Isaiah 25:7-9, JPS
[190] Isaiah 60:19-22, JPS
[191] “Shades” (repaim) refers to the spirits of the dead. This word repaim is also used in reference to the giants or Rephaim (cf., e.g., Deuteronomy 2:11).
[192] Isaiah 26:13-15, JPS
[193] Isaiah 26:19, JPS
[194] Isaiah 9:6-7, KJV
[195] Note in this translation, the son is not called “Mighty God, Everlasting Father,” but rather his name is “The Mighty God is planning grace, the Eternal Father, a peaceable ruler.”
[196] Psalm 32:1-2, KJV
[197] Cf. Psalm 34:18 and 51:17
[198] Exodus 34:6-7, JPS
[199] Psalm 103:3, JPS
[200] Isaiah 43:25, JPS
[201] 1 John 1:9, KJV
[202] Isaiah 38:5, JPS
[203] Malachi 3:10, JPS
[204] 2 Chronicles 7:14, JPS
[205] Isaiah 38:10-12, 18, JPS
[206] Isaiah 53:5-6, 12, JPS
[207] Isaiah 57:15-16, JPS
[208] Cf. Psalm 51:17
[209] Isaiah 61:4-6, 11, JPS
[210] Isaiah 62:4-5, 11, JPS
[211] Isaiah 65:17, JPS
[212] Isaiah 66:18, 20-22, JPS
[213] Genesis 18:23-33
[214] Exodus 32:11-13
[215] Job 42:7-9
[216] E.g., Isaiah 33:15
[217] E.g., Isaiah 1:17
[218] Isaiah 1:11-13, JPS
[219] Hebrews 11:14-16, KJV
[220] Galatians 3:8, KJV
[221] 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, KJV
[222] John 8:56, KJV
[223] Hebrews 11:39-40, KJV
[224] Genesis 3:15, RSV
[225] Exodus 17:6
[226] Numbers 20:8
[227] 1 Corinthians 10:4, KJV
[228] Jeremiah 31:29-30 JPS
[229] Jeremiah 31:31-34 JPS
[230] Jeremiah 17:9-10 JPS
[231] Cf. Jeremiah 13:22-23
[232] Jeremiah 7:7, JPS Cf. also, Jeremiah 15:6; 17:25; 25:5; 31:40; 32:40
[233] Jeremiah 42:10, JPS
[234] Jeremiah 8:6; 20:16
[235] Ezekiel 14:13-14 JPS
[236] Ezekiel 18:4 JPS
[237] Isaiah 2:2-4 KJV.
[238] Cf. Ezekiel 38-39.
[239] Revelation 20:7-9 KJV
[240] Jeremiah 1:5, JPS
[241] 2 Samuel 7:16, JPS
[242] Deuteronomy 34:10, JPS
[243] Daniel 6:21-22, JPS, emphasis mine
[244] Ezekiel 11:1-4, 13 JPS
[245] Daniel 12:2-3, JPS
[246] The word alam is the cognate in Hebrew, olam, and shows the Hebrew tendency to change an accented long “a” to “o.” Op cit, Harris, Theological Wordbook of the OT, p. 1055
[247] Daniel 2:44, JPS
[248] Daniel 7:18, JPS
[249] Daniel 9:24, JPS
[250] Cf. Daniel 9:20
[251] Daniel 9:8-11, JPS
[252] Daniel 9:23-24, JPS
[253] Daniel 12:13, JPS
[254] Op cit, Charles, A Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life, pages 133-134, 180-181
[255] Daniel 11:37: “Neither shall he regard the gods of his fathers…” This reference to Antichrist seems to suggest he is a Jew.
[256] Hosea 6:6, JPS
[257] Cf., e.g., Psalm 51:17, Isaiah 57:15; 66:2
[258] Hosea 2:19, JPS
[259] Hosea 6:2, JPS
[260] Ezekiel 37:13, JPS
[261] Joel 3:20, JPS
[262] Joel 2:28-30, JPS
[263] Verse 27, JPS
[264] Amos 9:11-15, JPS
[265] Amos 1:11, JPS
[266] Hebrews 11:31
[267] Matthew 1:5
[268] Cf., E.g., Genesis 15:6 quoted by Paul in Romans 4:2.
[269] Cf., Psalm 34:18, 51:17.
[270] Cf., John 8:1-11. Note the paucity of references in the gospels to God forgiving sin, especially willful sin such as the case of the woman taken in adultery.
[271] Obadiah 10, JPS
[272] Simon, Uriel, Jonah, The JPS Bible Commentary, Sarna, Nahum, The Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia, 1999, p. xii.
[273] Romans 3:26, KJV
[274] Micah 5:2, JPS
[275] Micah 2:9, JPS
[276] As noted in Part 6 of this series, nesah, olam, ad, and alam, all words referring to “forever, eternal, everlasting, etc., can refer to anything between remote time and perpetuity. No general word exits for time in Hebrew, nor for ideas like past, present, future, and eternity.
[277] Micah 4:5, JPS
[278] Micah 4:6-7, JPS
[279] Micah 7:18-10, JPS
[280] Zephaniah 2:3
[281] Zephaniah 3:11-13, JPS
[282] Haggai 1:6, JPS
[283] Haggai 2:21
[284] Zechariah 14:2-4, 9, 16, JPS
[285] Zechariah 7:13, JPS
[286] Malachi 4:5, JPS
[287] Davidson, A.B., The Theology of the Old Testament, T & T Clark, Edinburgh, 1955, page 405.
[288] “Levirate marriage:” from the Latin “husband’s brother.”
[289] Used in the NT in Mark 4:22, Luke 8:17 and Colossians 2:3.
[290] McClintock, John and Strong, James, General Editors, Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, Baker, Grand Rapids, 1981, vol. 1, page 291.
[291] Ibid, page 292.
[292] Orr, James, General Editor, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1955, Vol. 1, pp. 177-183.
[293] Charles, R.H., general editor, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, Volume I, Oxford at The Clarendon Press, 1979, (First published in 1913.)
[294] 2 Maccabees 6:23
[295] 2 Maccabees 7:9
[296] Ibid, verse 11
[297] Ibid, verse 14
[298] Ibid, verses 22-23
[299] Ibid, verse 29
[300] 2 Maccabees 12:43-45
[301] When Alexander the Great died, his kingdom was divided between four of his generals. Ptolemy controlled Egypt and the geography surrounding it. To the north, another general Seleucus controlled Syria and the geography surrounding it. Israel, standing between the two, found herself constantly contending with these dynasties.
[302] Judith 16:17.
[303] Hebrews 13:17, KJV
[304] John 17:14-15, KJV
[305] Daniel 9:24-27, JPS
[306] Cf. Matthew 24:6-14
[307] Cf. e.g., Revelation 11:3, 13:5
[308] Sirach 14:16, 19
[309] Sirach 15:6
[310] Sirach 7:33
[311] Sirach 17:27-28
[312] Op cit, Charles, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, Box and Oesterley, vol. I, pp. 377, 388
[313] Sirach 37:25-26
[314] Op cit, Charles, Box and Oesterley, p. 447
[315] Sirach 41:4
[316] Op cit, Charles, Box and Oesterley, p 466
[317] Ecclesiastes 6:6, JPS
[318] Sirach 44:16
[319] Op Cit, Charles, Box and Oesterley, p. 482
[320] Sirach 46:12; 49:10
[321] Op Cit, Charles, Box and Oesterley, p. 505
[322] Sirach 34:19
[323] Sirach 35:1
[324] Sirach 16:13-14
[325] Op Cit, Charles, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, Holmes, vol. I, p. 518
[326] 1 Enoch 108:12
[327] Wisdom 1:12-15
[328] Wisdom 2:1-5
[329] Wisdom 3:4-8
[330] Wisdom 4:10
[331] Wisdom 5:15-16; 8:13
[332] Wisdom 4:18-19, 5:1-2
[333] Charles, R.H., A critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life in Israel, in Judaism, and in Christianity, Adam and Charles Black, London, 1899, pp. 251-253
[334] Op cit, Charles, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, Whitehouse, vol. I, p. 576
[335] Ibid, pp. 569, 580
[336] Baruch 4:6
[337] Baruch 4:18, 25, 29, 32-35, 5:5-9
[338] Op cit., Charles, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, Ball, vol. I, p.596
[339] Epistle of Jeremy 34
[340] 2 Chronicles 33:11-13, 18-19, JPS
[341] Op cit., Charles, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, Ryle, vol. I, p. 612
[342] Prayer of Manasses 8
[343] Op cit., Charles, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, Bennett, vol. I, p. 629
[344] Op cit., Charles, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, Kay, vol. I, p. 638
[345] Op cit., Charles, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, Witton, Davies, vol. I, pp. 652-53, 657
[346] Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament
[347] Op cit., Charles, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, Gregg, vol. I, p. 669
[348] Ibid, p. 670
[349] The most recognized authority on the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha in his day, and possibly in any era.
[350] The word “apocalyptic,” meaning “end times,” refers to God’ prophetic utterances of
[351] Charles, R.H., general editor, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, Oxford at The Clarendon Press, 1979, vol. II, pp. vii, viii. (First published in 1913.)
[352] Ibid, pages viii, ix.
[353] Ibid, page ix.
[354] Ibid, page ix.
[355] Cf., e.g., Isaiah 65:17ff.
[356] Charles, R.H., A Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life in Israel, in Judaism, and in Christianity, Adam and Charles Black, London, 1899, pp. 2-3
[357] Ibid, page 7 [I think when you start a new letter, you need to regive the cite – I don’t remember who you’re quoting.]
[358] Ibid, page 17.
[359] Ibid, page 18.
[360] Ibid, page 52
[361] Joshua 7:11 NASB
[362] Genesis 17:8 KJV
[363] Cf. e.g., Numbers 15:30-31
[364] Numbers 20:8-11
[365] I Samuel 11
[366] Psalm 51:17. Cf. also Psalm 34:18.
[367] Samson may be another exception, although God does not call his licentious living sin (cf. Judges 14-16 and esp. 14:4).
[368] From 1948 forward, although Israel exists as an autonomous nation, she cannot fulfill the Law’s requirements as long as a Mosque sits on the dome of the rock.
[369] John 3:3 KJV
[370] Matthew 6:20 KJV
[371] Job explores this theme as he argues with his friends that there is no necessary relationship between righteous living and prosperity. The book concludes without answering this conundrum of how we can call God just when righteous people suffer.
[372] Isaiah 1:16-18, JPS
[373] Justification: God declaring a guilty person innocent
[374] Sanctification: That process whereby the believer becomes conformed to the image of Christ
[375] Cf. John 14:6
[376] Imputed sanctification: God declaring the believer holy, thus enabling the Holy Spirit to dwell in him
[377] Cf., e.g., 1John 2:3-4
[378] Cf. Hosea 1:2
[379] Cf. Matthew 19:3-9
[380] Cf. Malachi 2:13-16
[381] Cf. Ezekiel 4:4-5
[382] Cf. Matthew 17:24-27
[383] I am unable to reconcile Leviticus 6 with Numbers 15:30-31.
[384] Cf. Leviticus 16:20-22
[385] Op Cit. Levine, Baruch, The JPS Torah Commentary on Leviticus, page 235. Although I know of no specific reference in Leviticus 16 to the effect that this sacrifice dealt with national, rather than individual, sins, Jewish scholars like Levine understand this to be the case.
[386] Numbers 15:30-31, NAS
[387] Leviticus 12:2, 6, KJV
[388] Passages such as Psalm 119:9-11 may point to the individual seeking sanctification, but it may also be that such people wanted to obey God to avoid temporal consequences for sinning. I cannot be certain.
[389] Mark 8:31-33, KJV
[390] I define legalism as adding to the commandments of God and/or believing that your good works contribute to your going to heaven.
[391] By way of illustration, a person believes that the prohibitions regarding women in ministry are cultural, while also believing that gambling is sin.
[392] Cf. Ephesians 2:1
[393] Romans 1:27, KJV
[394] Deuteronomy 23:2, KJV
[395] 1Timothy 1:15
[396] Proverbs 23:7
[397] Op Cit. Charles, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, vol. II, page 163.
[398] This is the reason we study the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha. Although not considered canonical by evangelical scholars, all scholars agree that they greatly influenced the NT writers.
[399] Ibid. Footnote, page 163
[400] Charles considers the two segments to be authored by two different people, about 20 years apart.
[401] Ethiopic Enoch 22:1-14
[402] Ethiopic Enoch 27
[403] Op cit, Charles, R.H., A Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life in Israel, in Judaism, and in Christianity, p. 274
[404] Ethiopic Enoch 89:59-65.
[405] Op cit, Charles, R.H., A Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life in Israel, in Judaism, and in Christianity, pp. 191-192
[406] Ethiopic Enoch 102:9-11.
[407] Ethiopic Enoch 103:7-8.
[408] He may very well have borrowed this idea from Daniels Seventy Weeks (cf. Daniel 9:20-27).
[409] Ethiopic Enoch 91:15-17.
[410] Ethiopic Enoch 69:29.
[411] Ethiopic Enoch 49:2-4.
[412] Ethiopic Enoch 69:27.
[413] Ethiopic Enoch 51:1.
[414] Ethiopic Enoch 61:5.
[415] Ethiopic Enoch 45:4-5.
[416] Ethiopic Enoch 41:1-2.
[417] Ethiopic Enoch 49:1-2.
[418] Jude 14-15, KJV
[419] Enoch 1:9
[420] The word “paradise” does not appear in the OT, and only three times in the NT: Luke 23:42, 2 Cor. 12:4, and Rev. 2:7.
[421] Op cit, Charles, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, vol. II, page 375
[422] Stravinskas, Peter M. J., Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Encyclopedia, “Sibylline Oracles.”
[423] Op cit, Charles, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, vol. II, page 371.
[424] The Sibylline Books, Book III, Lines 334-336
[425] Ibid, Book V, Lines 75-85
[426] Ibid, Book III, Lines 767-771
[427] Ibid, Book V, Lines 414-422
[428] Genesis 47:30, JPS
[429] Other translations use the word “lie.”
[430] Deuteronomy 31:16, JPS
[431] Job 7:21, JPS
[432] Jeremiah 51:39, 57, JPS
[433] Cf. Daniel 9:21-27
[434] Ethiopic Enoch 104:6-9
[435] Ethiopic Enoch 99:11
[436] Ethiopic Enoch 103: 6-8
[437] “John succeeded his father both as prince and high priest, and his long reign displayed all the characteristics of the true Maccabees… Hyrcanus threw off the Syrian yoke and began a war of conquest. In a quick campaign he conquered the trans-Jordanic territory, destroyed Samaria and its temple and devastated the land of Idumaea, whose people were now embodied in the Jewish commonwealth by an enforced circumcision. By an embassy, the third in the Asmonean history, he made an alliance with Rome… After a reign of nearly three decades he died in peace, envied for three things–the possession of the supreme power in Israel, the possession of the high-priesthood and the gift of prophecy.” ISBE
[438] Op Cit. Charles, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, vol. II, page 282
[439] Psalm 110:4 JPS
[440] Op Cit. Charles, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, vol. II, page 294
[441] Anointed in the Greek is Cristou/ which we translate Christ.
[442] Reuben 6:7-12
[443] The angels make propitiation, rather than Messiah, and then only for “the ignorance of the righteous.”
[444] Levi 3:1-10
[445] Another word for Satan.
[446] Levi 18:1-14
[447] Benjamin 10:6-9
[448] Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, editors Ante-Nicene Fathers, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1951, Vol. VIII, pp. 3-5.
[449] Judah
[450] Op cit, Charles, A Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life, p. 193
[451] Op cit, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, vol. 1, page 178
[452] NAS Psalm 32:2
[453] Op cit, Charles, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, page 552
[454] 4 Ezra 7:51-63
[455] 4 Ezra 13:25-36
[456] 4 Ezra 6:24-28
[457] Comparing their captivity in Egypt with Psalm 90 (the prayer of Moses) verse 15, the writer concludes that the restoration of Messiah will last 400 years.
[458] Note: Ezra makes no mention of Christ dying for people’s sin, even though he ostensibly wrote in the first century AD.
[459] 4 Ezra 7:26-32
[460] 4 Ezra 7:33-44
[461] 4 Ezra 5:1-13, 6:18-24
[462] 4 Ezra 6:25-28
[463] 4 Ezra 7:9-14
[464] 4 Ezra 7:118: “O Adam, what have you done? For though it was you who sinned, the fall was not yours alone, but ours also who are your descendants.” Cf. Romans 5, I Corinthians 15
[465] Psalms of Solomon 3:16
[466] Psalms of Solomon 15:11
[467] Op cit, Charles, R.H., A critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life in Israel, in Judaism, and in Christianity, vol. II, pp. 269-270
[468] 2 Baruch 30:1-5.
[469] 2 Baruch 36:8-11
[470] 2 Baruch 40:1-3
[471] 2 Baruch 73:1-4, 7, 74:1
[472] I Corinthians 15:35, RSV
[473] Baruch 49:2-3
[474] Baruch 50:1-4, 51:8-10
[475] Baruch 85:11-15
[476] Romans 3:26, KJV
[477] Genesis 17:8
[478] Matthew 22:23-33
[479] Acts. 23:6
[480] Targum means, “translate or interpret.” During the period of Ezra’s Temple, rabbis added comments to their translations of Old Testament scripture.
[481] Op cit. Charles, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, vol. II, page 1
[482] Jubilees 23:26-31
[483] Op cit. Charles, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, vol. II, page 407
[484] Assumption of Moses 10:1-10
[485] Secrets of Enoch 49:4-5
[486] Secrets of Enoch 51:1-4
[487] Secrets of Enoch 65:5-7
[488] Secrets of Enoch 10:3
[489] Schurer, Emil, A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, Second Division, vol. II, page 175, Hendrickson Publishers, USA 2008
[490] Op cit., Charles, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, vol. II, page 85
[491] Ibid. page 137.
[492] The Books of Adam and Eve, “Apocalypsis Mosis 10:2.”
[493] Cf. Revelation 20:1-3
[494] Secrets of Enoch 32-33:1
[495] Secrets of Enoch 7:1-2
[496] Evidently, one of God’s angels
[497] Secrets of Enoch 32:1-2
[498] Secrets of Enoch 8-10
[499] Secrets of Enoch 43:1-2 as quoted from Charles, R.H., A critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life in Israel, in Judaism, and in Christianity, pp. 265-266
[500] Secrets of Enoch 22:8-9
[501] A Greek philosophy teaching that because the body is evil it should be disciplined and controlled.
[502] 4 Maccabees 9:7-9
[503] 4 Maccabees 17:4-6
[504] 4 Maccabees 13:14-15
[505] Cornfeld, Gaalya, general editor, Josephus, Flavius, The Jewish War, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1982, Book 2, Chapter 8, Verse 14, pp. 153-154
[506] Sayings of the Fathers 2:5
[507] McNamara, Martin, Justification and Variegated Nomism, D.A. Carson, Peter T. O’Brien, Mark A. Seifrid, editors, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, Vol. 1 “The Complexities of Second Temple Judaism,” page 303.
[508] Ibid, page 312. Italics mine.
[509] Ibid, page 333. Italics mine.
[510] Philo, De Execrat, 8-9, quoted from Charles, R.H., A critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life in Israel, in Judaism, and in Christianity, page 259
[511] Ibid, page 260
[512] Matthew 5-7
[513] Born about 37 AD of priestly and royal ancestors, he was a historian who wrote gave valuable insight into Judaism and Christianity.
[514] Philo was a Jew from Alexandria, Egypt who lived from 20 BC until 50 AD. He used allegory in an endeavor to blend Judaism with Greek philosophy.
[515] Pliny the elder was a philosopher and historian, the son of a Roman Senator, who died about 79 AD.
[516] Internet information
[517] Op cit. A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, second division, vol. II, page 204
[518] Colossians 2:18
[519] Op Cit. A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, second division, vol. II, page 216
[520] Op cit. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature, vol. III, pages 301-305
[521] The book of Hosea portrays Israel as a whore pursued by a gracious God.
[522] Romans 9:6-7, RSV
[523] Vermes, Geza, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, Penguin Books, N.Y, 1997, p. 73
[524] Ibid, pp. 74-76
[525] Carson, D.A., O’Brien, Peter T., and Seifrid, Mark A., Justification and Variegated Nomism, Vol. 1, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, 2001, page 397
[526] Matthew 3:9-10, RSV
[527] Op cit. Carson, Justification and Variegated Nomism, Vol. 1, p. 383
[528] Cf. Romans 3:21-31
[529] The great Jewish council where important issues were deliberated, and decisions made.
[530] Graetz, Heinrich, History of the Jews, Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia, 1956, vol. 2, pp. 327-328
[531] Rabbinical literature on biblical stories.
[532] Kabbalah claims a divine authorship, though it probably originated in the 12th century A.D. Allegedly, the truth of Kabbalah was first given to the angels before God created the world. Mankind then received it on three separate occasions through three different men. Adam was the first to receive the teaching through the Archangel Raziel as Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden. But, because people were more interested in the ways of the world than the things of God, the truth of Kabbalah was eventually lost. It is said that Kabbalah is derived from ancient Hebraic priesthood practices that has the goal of human transformation.
[533] Members of a Jewish mystical movement, the word means “pious, religious.”
[534] Ginzberg, Louis, The Legends of the Jews, Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia, 1968, vol. 1, pp. viii – xiii
[535] Rosenblatt, Samuel, Saadia Gaon The Book of Beliefs and Opinions, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1948, p. 205
[536] Ibid, pp. 235-240
[537] Ibid, pp. 255-257
[538] Cf., e.g., Mark 7:1-13
[539] Ibid, pp. 267-271
[540] Ibid, p 276
[541] Ibid, pp. 283-284
[542] Ibid, pp. 286-288
[543] Ibid, p. 290
[544] Ibid, pp. 344-345, 347-348, 353-354
[545] Maimonides, Maqala, quoted from: Baron, Salo Wittmayer, Editor, Essays on Maimonides, AMS Press, NY, 1966, Finkel, Joshua, “Maimonides’ Treatise on Resurrection: A Comparative Study,” chapter 4
[546] Gorfinkle, Joseph I., translator, The Eight Chapters of Maimonides on Ethics, AMS Press, NYC, 1966, pp. 95-96
[547] Op cit, Charles, Eschatology, page 307
[548] Cf. Revelation 20:1-10
[549] Matthew 4:19, KJV
[550] Matthew 3:2, KJV. Jesus preaches the same thing in 4:17.
[551] It seems to me that this can be first seen in the closing verses of Matthew 12. Beginning with Matthew 13 Jesus uses parables for the purpose of obfuscating (cf. Matthew 13:10-17).
[552] Matthew 3:12, KJV
[553] Matthew 8:11-12, KJV
[554] Matthew 10:15, KJV. Cf. also Matthew 11:24
[555] Matthew 10:28, 32-33, KJV. Cf. also Mark 8:38 and Luke 9:26
[556] Matthew 13:11, KJV
[557] Matthew 13:50, KJV
[558] Matthew 16:21, KJV
[559] Matthew 16:26-27, RSV
[560] Matthew 18:3, KJV
[561] Matthew 21:31, KJV
[562] Matthew 22:13-14, KJV
[563] Matthew 23:13, 33, KJV
[564] Matthew 23:8-39 is not found in the other gospels
[565] Matthew 24:43-51
[566] Matthew 25:1-13
[567] Matthew 25:14-30: This parable, similar to the parable of the mina, teaches the same lesson, but from a different perspective. In the parable of the mina, our Lord makes an equal distribution, while in this parable the distribution is unequal. The man receiving five pounds returns five more, and the one receiving ten pounds returns ten more. Each man receives the same reward. In heaven, God rewards His followers based on faithfulness to opportunity.
[568] Matthew 25:31-46: Note in v. 46 that whether people go to heaven or hell is based on their works (cf. Luke 19:8-9 above).
[569] Mark 14:25, KJV, cf. also Matthew 26:29, Luke 22:18, 30
[570] Matthew 26:64, KJV, cf. also Mark 14:62, Luke 22:69
[571] Matthew 25:46, KJV
[572] Matthew 26:30-31, KJV
[573] Matthew 27:52-53, KJV
[574] These verses dealing with the graves opening appear only in Matthew.
[575] Matthew 27:25, KJV
[576] Mark 4:24-25, RSV
[577] Mark 8:35-38, KJV
[578] Mark 9:43-48, KJV
[579] Matthew 18:10, KJV
[580] Mark 9:31, KJV
[581] Mark 9:32, KJV
[582] Matthew 17:23, KJV
[583] Luke 9:45, RSV
[584] Mark 12:34, KJV
[585] Mark 10:14-15, KJV
[586] Later in this study we will look at the various ways Scripture views the Kingdom of God.
[587] Mark 13:4, 6-8, 12, 19-20, 22, and 24-26, KJV
[588] Matthew 24:37-41
[589] Mark 16:14, KJV
[590] Mark 16:19, KJV
[591] Luke 5:8, KJV
[592] Luke 5:32, KJV. Cf. also Matthew 9:13, Mark 2:17
[593] Luke 7:48, KJV
[594] Cf. Matthew 9:2
[595] Luke 7:28, KJV
[596] Luke 9:51, RSV
[597] It may be cross-referenced with John 7:10, but I am not certain.
[598] Luke 10:20, KJV
[599] Luke 10:25, KJV
[600] Luke 11:31-32, 52, KJV
[601] In this material, exclusive to Luke, Jesus rebukes and pronounces woes on the religious elite of Israel. The context suggests that the consequences of their behavior will accrue to their eternal hurt.
[602] Luke 12:4-5, KJV
[603] Luke 12:47-48, KJV
[604] “The teachings of the law, the teachings of grace, and the teachings of the kingdom are separate and complete systems of divine rule which are perfectly adapted to the varied conditions in three great dispensations… Every teaching of the kingdom which contemplates the responsibility of the individual is, in like manner, based on a covenant of human works, and is, therefore, purely legal in character.” Chafer, Lewis Sperry, Systematic Theology, Dallas Seminary, Dallas Texas, 1976, Vol. IV, pages 225-226. In light of this, it seems that Chafer would argue that words such as these do not apply to the believer in Christ, but to those who will live with Christ during the millennium.
[605] Luke 13:23-30, KJV
[606] Luke 15:31, KJV
[607] Luke 16:9, KJV
[608] Luke 16:25, KJV
[609] Luke 17:24-25, 34-35, KJV
[610] Luke 18:32-34, KJV
[611] Cf. my comments on John 13:26 where we learn that the Deceiver was deceived. When Jesus, in this same context, says, in Mark 10:45: “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many,” the disciples evidently did not connect these words with His imminent death; the Messiah promised in the Old Testament could have become a ransom for Israel without dying. Luke tells us that on Jesus final trip to Jerusalem, the disciples “supposed that the kingdom of God was immediately to appear” (Luke 19:11). Obviously, they did not anticipate the Cross.
[612] Luke 19:26-27, KJV
[613] Luke 20:34-36, KJV
[614] Luke 23:43, KJV
[615] This conversation with the thief on the cross appears only in Luke.
[616] Luke 24:6-8, KJV
[617] Luke 24:26-27, KJV. Cf. also Luke 24:45-47
[618] Daniel 12:2, JPS
[619] John 15:16, KJV
[620] John 1:29, KJV
[621] In verse 36 John again says, “Behold the lamb of God,” but does not mention His taking away the sin of the world.
[622] John 3:13, 15-16, KJV
[623] Reference to the kingdom appears three times in John’s gospel: John 3:3, 5, 18:36. It seems to me that in all three references, the kingdom is both future and spiritual.
[624] John 3:36, KJV
[625] John 4:14, KJV
[626] John 4:36, KJV
[627] John 5:21-22, 24-25, 28-29, KJV
[628] Cf. John 6:29 where Jesus says that the work of God is believing.
[629] A person gains eternal life the moment he receives Christ (cf. John 17:3). He will never be more alive spiritual than at that moment. The only dying he has left is that of the body. Thus, Jesus ties the resurrection to eternal life; the one flows from the other. In this sense, the resurrection is a present reality:
[630] John 6, 27, 40, 47, 51, 54, 58 KJV
[631] Note how John’s gospel contrasts with the Synoptics: Believe is the condition for salvation in John rather than good works as frequently found in the Synoptics; John emphasizes grace to a degree not found in the Synoptics. Note also that in John you find an emphasis on election not found in the other gospels. Cf. e.g., John 6:44, 10:28-29, and 15:16. Jesus offers it, as illustrated by the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. In John our Lord Jesus takes the initiative, more often than not (as seen by Jesus going to the Pool of Bethesda in John 5), while in the Synoptics, people come to Jesus for help. Regarding prayer: you find the Synoptic writers encouraging perseverance in prayer in a way you don’t in John. In all of this, in the Synoptics it is up to you; in John it is up to God.
[632] John 6:68, KJV
[633] John 8:51, KJV
[634] John 6:40, KJV
[635] John 10:17-18, 27-28, KJV
[636] John 11:24-26, KJV
[637] John 12:7, KJV
[638] John 12:25, 49-50, KJV
[639] John 13:3, KJV
[640] John 14: 2-3, 19, KJV
[641] John 16:28, KJV
[642] John 17:3, KJV
[643] Cf. also verse 13
[644] John 17:11, 24, KJV
[645] John 18:36, KJV
[646] John 20:17, KJV
[647] John 20:31, KJV
[648] 2 Samuel 12:13, KJV
[649] Ezekiel 18:21-23, KJV
[650] Matthew 7:22-23, KJV
[651] John 3:3, 5
[652] Isaiah 9:6-7, KJV
[653] Amos 9:13-15, KJV
[654] Matthew 3:1-3, KJV
[655] Cf. John 11:47-48
[656] Mark 10:15, RSV
[657] Luke 17:20-21, KJV
[658] Daniel 6:26, KJV
[659] Daniel 7:13-14, KJV
[660] Matthew 12:43, KJV
[661] Matthew 13:41, KJV
[662] Revelation 20:1-6, KJV
[663] Matthew 6:10, KJV
[664] Matthew 6:33, KJV
[665] Romans 11:25-26, KJV
[666] For further research on the subject, cf. Peters, George N.H., The Theocratic Kingdom, Kregel, Grand Rapids, 1994, 3 Volumes.
[667] Daniel 12:2, JPS
[668] John 15:16, KJV
[669] Cf., e.g., Ezekiel 18:21-28.
[670] Acts 2:37-39 RSV
[671] Acts 3:19-20 RSV – Peter no doubt refers to the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel as seen in Malachi 4:6: “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” (Cf. also Matthew 17:11 and Acts 1:6.) That Peter had Israel in mind is supported by the fact that Peter didn’t know God planned on including the Gentiles until He revealed it to Peter in Acts 10:9-16.
[672] Cf. Acts 4:24-30
[673] Acts 5:29-32 RSV.
[674] Acts 8:22 RSV.
[675] Acts 10:43 RSV.
[676] Acts 13:38-39 RSV.
[677] Acts 15:11 RSV.
[678] Acts 16:31 RSV.
[679] Acts 17:30-31 RSV.
[680] Acts 20:21 RSV.
[681] Acts 26:18, 23 KJV.
[682] You catch glimpses of it (mostly by inference) in passages such as Acts 26:23 where Paul says that Jesus is “the first to rise from the dead.”
[683] Acts 13:48 KJV
[684] In Acts 23:6 and 24:15 Paul makes this link while defending himself against the Sadducees, who denied the resurrection. You get the impression that Paul did this to cause division among his accusers.
[685] Hebrews 11:6, KJV
[686] Romans 2:7, KJV
[687] Romans 4:17, RSV
[688] Romans 4:24-25, KJV
[689] Romans 5:6-9, NAS
[690] Romans 5:21, RSV
[691] Romans 6:23, RSV
[692] Romans 8:11, RSV
[693] Romans 8:16-17, 23, 30, RSV
[694] Romans 14:10-12, NAS
[695] I Corinthians 1:7-8, 23, KJV
[696] I Corinthians 3:13-15, KJV
[697] I Corinthians 4:5, KJV
[698] I Corinthians 11:26, KJV
[699] I Corinthians 6:9-10, RSV
[700] Cf., e.g., I Corinthians 7:8-9, 32-35
[701] I Corinthians 7:7, 9:24-27, KJV
[702] I Corinthians 11:31-32, KJV
[703] I Corinthians 13:13, RSV
[704] I Corinthians 15:16-18, KJV
[705] I Corinthians 15:51-53, KJV
[706] I Corinthians 15:23-28, KJV
[707] I Corinthians 15:58, 16:22, KJV
[708] II Corinthians 1:9-10, KJV
[709] II Corinthians 1:14, KJV
[710] II Corinthians 2:15-16, KJV
[711] II Corinthians 4:14, 17-18, KJV
[712] II Corinthians 5:1-11, esp. vv. 10-11, KJV
[713] II Corinthians 5:19, 21, KJV
[714] II Corinthians 8:9, KJV
[715] II Corinthians 13:4, RSV
[716] Galatians 1:1, KJV
[717] Galatians 1:4, KJV
[718] Galatians 3:13, KJV
[719] Galatians 5:19-21, KJV
[720] Galatians 6:8, KJV
[721] Ephesians 1:7, KJV
[722] Ephesians 2:14, KJV
[723] Ephesians 1: 11, 13-14, 18, KJV
[724] Ephesians 2:6, KJV
[725] Ephesians 4:30, KJV
[726] Ephesians 5:5, KJV
[727] Philippians 1:6, 10, 2:16, KJV
[728] Philippians 1:23, KJV
[729] Philippians 3:11, KJV
[730] Philippians 3:20-21, NAB
[731] Philippians 4:17, RSV
[732] Colossians 1:5, KJV
[733] Colossians 1:12-14, 20, KJV. When Paul says that God “reconcile(d) all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven,” what, besides fallen man, needed to be reconciled to God? It may mean the saints of the Old Testament that went to heaven incomplete without the atoning work of Christ, or possibly the created order that “was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope” (Romans 8:20). Some think this refers to celestial beings that partook of rebellion against God, and thus need redemption, but I am dubious. (Cf. Philippians 2:10)
[734] Ephesians 2:5, RSV
[735] Colossians 2:13, NAB
[736] Colossians 3:1-4, KJV
[737] Colossians 3:24, KJV
[738] Ephesians 5:23, 25, KJV
[739] I Thessalonians 1:10, RSV
[740] Cf. also I Thessalonians 2:19; 3:13; 5:23 for other references to Paul anticipating the imminent return of Christ.
[741] I Thessalonians 4:13-17, RSV
[742] II Thessalonians 1:5-11, KJV
[743] II Thessalonians 2:4, KJV
[744] I Timothy 1:16, RSV
[745] I Timothy 3:16, RSV
[746] I Timothy 4:8, RSV
[747] I Timothy 6:12, KJV
[748] I Timothy 6:16, RSV
[749] I Timothy 6:19, RSV
[750] II Timothy 1:1, RSV
[751] II Timothy 1:9-10, KJV
[752] II Timothy 2:8, 11, KJV
[753] II Timothy 2:17-18, KJV
[754] II Timothy 4:7-8, 18, KJV
[755] As far as I can tell, the phrase “Christ died for our sins” only appears in I Corinthians 15:3, at least in the KJV.
[756] Titus 1:2-3, KJV
[757] Titus 2:13-14, KJV
[758] Titus 3:5-7, KJV
[759] Genesis 15:6, JPS
[760] Jonah 3:5, JPS
[761] John 6:28-29, RSV
[762] Hebrews 3:18-19, RSV
[763] John 14:21, RSV
[764] 1 John 2:4, RSV
[765] Daniel 12:2, JPS
[766] Romans 4:4-5, KJV
[767] Ephesians 2:8-9, KJV
[768] Titus 3:5, KJV
[769] Matthew 7:21-23, KJV
[770] Romans 10:9, KJV
[771] 1 Peter 2:8
[772] Hebrews 1:3, KJV
[773] Hebrews 2:9, KJV
[774] Hebrews 2:17
[775] Hebrews 9:7, NAS
[776] Hebrews 9:12, KJV
[777] Hebrews 9:15, KJV
[778] Hebrews 9:26-28, KJV
[779] Hebrews 10:12, KJV
[780] Hebrews 6:1-2, KJV
[781] Hebrews 6:18-20, KJV
[782] Hebrews 10:34, KJV
[783] Hebrews 11:5
[784] Hebrews 11:10, KJV
[785] Hebrews 11:16, KJV
[786] Hebrews 11:26, RSV
[787] Hebrews 11:35, KJV
[788] Hebrews 12:23, KJV
[789] Hebrews 13:14, KJV
[790] James 5:7
[791] James 2:5
[792] James 4:4
[793] I Peter 1:3-5, KJV
[794] Verse 7, KJV
[795] Verse 9, KJV
[796] Verse 11, KJV
[797] Verse 13, KJV
[798] Verse 17, KJV. Cf. also I Peter 3:9
[799] I Peter 4:5, modified KJV
[800] Verse 24, KJV
[801] Verse 21, KJV
[802] I Peter 2:11, KJV
[803] I Peter 2:24, KJV
[804] I Peter 3:18, NAB
[805] I Peter 3:15, KJV
[806] I Peter 4:12-19, RSV
[807] I Peter 5:4, KJV
[808] Verse 10, KJV
[809] Cf. II Peter 1:12, 13, 15, 3:1
[810] II Peter 3:4, KJV
[811] II Peter 3:6-7, 10, KJV
[812] II Peter 3:12-13, KJV
[813] II Peter 1:11-12, KJV
[814] II Peter 2:4-6, 9, 12-13, KJV
[815] II Peter 3:11-12, RSV
[816] Matthew 11:27, RSV
[817] Matthew 7:22-23, KJV
[818] John 5:21-22, RSV
[819] Matthew 10:42, 13:41-43, 16:27, 22:11-14, KJV
[820] I John 1:2, 2:17, 25, 3:2, KJV
[821] I John 5:11-13, 20, KJV
[822] I John 3:15, KJV
[823] I John 4:17-18, KJV
[824] I John 1:7, 2:2, KJV
[825] I John 4:10, KJV
[826] Although the idea of Antichrist appears in various places in the New Testament and Daniel, the word “antichrist” appears only in I John 2:18, 22; 4:3; and II John 7.
[827] I John 2:28, KJV
[828] 2John 2, KJV
[829] II John 8, KJV
[830] Jude 14-15
[831] 1Enoch 1:9
[832] Taken from Charles, R.H, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1979, vol. II, page 408 and from Nicoll, Robertson, The Expositors Greek Testament, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1951, Vol. 5, page 263.
[833] Jude 5, KJV
[834] Jude 21, KJV
[835] Revelation 1:3, KJV
[836] Revelation 1:5-6, KJV
[837] Revelation 2:7, KJV
[838] Verses 10-11, KJV
[839] Verse 17, KJV
[840] Verses 23, 26-28, KJV
[841] Revelation 3:5, KJV
[842] Verses 11-12, KJV
[843] Verse 21, KJV
[844] Revelation 2:5, KJV
[845] Revelation 2:16, KJV
[846] Revelation 3:3, KJV
[847] Revelation 4:1-2, KJV
[848] Revelation 5:9-10, KJV
[849] Revelation 6:17, KJV
[850] Revelation 7:13-17, KJV
[851] Revelation 14:13, KJV
[852] Revelation 15:2-4, KJV
[853] Revelation 19:7-9, KJV
[854] Cf. Ezekiel 38:2 – 39:16
[855] Revelation 20:12, 15, KJV
[856] Cf. Revelation 21:12-14
[857] Revelation 22:10-12, KJV
[858] Deuteronomy 25:6, JPS. Cf. also 2Samuel 18:18
[859] Romans 3:26, KJV
[860] Matthew 23:15